Job freezes may not be enough in current economy

As the economy of Northern Nevada has slowed to a crawl, business leaders have been making some tough calls cutting expenses and staff.

So it's no great surprise that state and local governments, largely dependent on sales taxes generated by those businesses, are finding themselves having to follow suit.

The first was state agencies, ordered by the governor to develop contingency plans for cuts up to 5 percent should the economy not improve.

Then last week came Carson City, which is freezing hiring of unfilled positions for the next four months. Rest assured rural counties far and wide are facing the same budget issues and are looking with trepidation on the next budget cycle.

Should the housing market pick up and auto sales suddenly return to the levels of previous years, all of this will be forgotten in Carson City. But some pundits say the economy will get worse before it gets better, which leads to the really tough decisions - what do we cut next?

The city could extend the hiring freezes, but if there's still no improvement do they lay off city employees? Cut off funding to programs and services Carson City residents have come to depend on? Reduce maintenance and improvements in parks and at city buildings?

The hiring freeze was the low-hanging fruit and, while harsh, is understandable to anyone who has managed a business. The job freezes aren't what we should be worrying about. It's what comes after the job freezes.

The city should be coming up with those answers now, even though we hope they'll never have to be put in use.

• This editorial represents the view of the Nevada Appeal editorial board.


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