It is the season of budget talks for the Houston County Board of Commissioners. As I see it we have a goliath-sized problem - but this problem can be fixed with some practical thinking on the part of the commissioners. So what's the problem? It's the steady and significant rise in Houston County taxes in recent years. This practice has to stop, period. I am working closely with Carol Lapham, who is the accounting manager for Houston County. Through the use of Carol's intimate knowledge of Houston County finance, the board will know what decisions have to be made to bring a 0 percent tax increase to Houston County taxpayers in the new year. With the increases we have seen as of late I believe any percent shy of zero is unacceptable.

Think about it, five people (the board of commissioners) are in charge of your county tax dollars. It only takes three board members to make a decision as to whether your taxes will increase or not. It only takes three to decide how your dollars are spent. As board members it is absolutely essential that we have an intimate working knowledge of county finance.

We have come to a crossroad in Houston County where the general population is decreasing and at the same time the population of our senior citizens is increasing. County business as we know it can no longer be shouldered by the taxpayer as it has been. I've heard it said "the cost of doing county business, is the price the taxpayers pay in increased taxes." Forgotten in that statement is budget cuts and reduced services causing the county to live within our means. No different than a successful household budget. If you don't have it, don't spend it. In the words of financial guru Dave Ramsey "cash is king and debt is dumb". In the case of the county "cash is king and continuous tax increases is poor management." The county board cannot continue to hand out salary increases, rubber stamp departmental expenditures as requested and fund a new justice center calling it "the cost of doing county business" with continued tax increases to cover it all. The time has come for sacrifice and lean management. A common phrase comes into play here "you can't have your cake and eat it to". Something has to give and with the "status quo" of current county business, the taxpayers of Houston County have given enough.

There will be a part two to this commentary coming as soon as we have all the necessary budget data gathered and analyzed for the purpose of "good decision making." I will continue to keep you informed and involved.