Bush plan may fleece the county#039;s coffers

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 8, 2005

Lawrence County may soon have a financial wake-up call. On the surface, that won't sound like much of a threat. Think about it. Lots of government agencies have wound up in financial trouble or even financial ruin.

That's no great news, is it?

Perhaps not, but this financial wake-up call may come directly from the top - President Bush. And, more important, it might sting like no other financial bite this area has ever felt.

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So what does the president have in store for Lawrence County? Bush's budget plan would strip a few million dollars from the county's wallet.

How you might ask? Simple. Bush wants to consolidate the Community Development Block Grant program and ultimately take a couple of billion dollars from its funding pool. The impact could cost residents of Lawrence County millions of dollars each year.

Now, before you go looking for a bucket of blue paint in an effort to change the county's political marking from red to blue, don't worry, Bush's removal of funds isn't personal. It's not that Bush dislikes Lawrence County.

It's just he dislikes mission creep. Mission what? Mission creep, it's a term Bush's father used in describing why he didn't plan on sending troops into Baghdad back in the first Gulf War. The point was clear: stay on mission.

CDBG grants have "crept" into lots of aspects of our government. And, consequently, our area has become addicted to the CDBG funds.

While we hope Bush and Congress restore the full funding for the CDBG program, if that doesn't happen Lawrence County will have to quickly learn to deal with a massive loss of funds.

Doing so would be a bit like forcing the area to quit its habit for the so-called "free money" almost cold turkey.

It would hurt, but in the end, the pain might be worth it if the long habit of addiction can be broken.