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Conservative budget a good decision

The seven people elected to oversee county taxpayers’ money approved a budget Monday night for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

By the time the commission reached the decision in its meeting, few were present to see chairman Tim Mims’ hand go up in approval of the budget. That was the first time he had voted “yes” to a county budget in about 12 years.

Mims’ approval of the budget may be a good sign because he has always pushed a conservative budget. And, by the looks of the numbers, most of the county department heads did not get the amount they requested.

The 2009-2010 budget is between $14 and $15 million. It includes level funding for the Sheriff’s Department (the same amount as last year) but slashes the budgets of most county departments.

Considering the fact that 8-percent cuts had to be made to the outgoing budget, it’s a good thing that cuts were made initially, even if they weren’t across the board. While reductions are never pleasant, especially in tough economic times, this seems to be a balanced budget — and that’s at least a step in the right direction.

The commission is not out of the woods yet, but Mims indicated Monday night there is a good chance the county won’t have to borrow money to close out the year. We think this would be a big accomplishment for this commission, considering the task at hand.

Borrowing money is simply unacceptable. And if money was borrowed in the past, it wouldn’t make any sense to pass the same budget again and again.

We hope the new budget is conservative enough to keep the county off of emergency spending longer. The county must learn to live within its means, even when it means making difficult decisions.