County must keep focus on expenses
Although the recent announcement that sales tax collections are up 10 percent compared to last year is good news, no one should be fooled into thinking that the county is in great financial shape.
The county commissioners and the budget commission will reevaluate the revenue streams next month, the result of which may put a little bit more money in county coffers.
But the reality is that the county will not improve its fiscal health by focusing solely on its revenue. It simply grows too slowly and isn’t enough to address the fact that the county essentially plans to spend more than it brings in each year but always manages to squeak by somehow.
The 10 percent increase represented about $40,000, an absolute drop in the bucket of the county’s larger financial needs.
Relying on sales tax revenue in a fickle economy, casino gambling profit sharing and tenuous government funding is a recipe for disaster.
Revenue growth must be part of the county’s long-term strategy, but it will not happen overnight.
The commission must focus on cutting expenses, a move that will require the county to fundamentally change how it operates. It may require the elimination of services, staff reductions and other painful cuts.
It won’t be easy but Lawrence County’s future depends on it.
The minimal revenue growth is great but county leaders cannot lose sight of what it will take to get the county strong now so it can focus on the future.