The Politics of South Country Budgeting


Administrator George Wiley and a bunch of County Commissioners who total to seven members are managing South County. The office of Management and budget (OMB) is in charge of preparing a budget. This budget is used in the county for various development activities and Mike Ketchum heads the department. The policies concerning the allocation of resources and implementation of the budget is bestowed within the authority of Board of County Commissioners. Hence, the way the resources are being allocated for various activities in the region will be based on the decision made by the Board of County commissioners. Kenneth Palmer, et al. However, indicates in that most countries have enormous financial difficulties because their taxation is based on the Ad Valorem taxation as the main source of income for development of various projects and activities every year. Furthermore, the region is further composed of a few property owners living or carrying out businesses so they are ones who pays taxes. The tax received from these property owners barely covers a quarter of the total costs for development and development of basic operating expenses of the county. This shortfall has been in existence for the past five years. Consequently the head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mike Ketchum has continuously used other means to earn additional income to supplement budget deficit. The main source of extra funding has been the General Fund Contingency. Consequently, this fund has declined from $16 million dollars to $9 million dollars. This is the minimum amount money allowed by the county policy. The head of OMB is now faced with the dilemma of where the additional income can be obtained in order to close the financial books after every year.

Being a financial expert, the head of Office Management of Budget (OMB), Mike Ketchem has proposed remedial measures to solve the problem. These include annual increment of the Ad Valorem rate and creation of distinctive tax districts such as Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTUs). Furthermore, since the sales tax has three more years to run, during the election time a recommendation is made that an extension of fifteen years is needed to provide funding for the road projects, storm water facilities and popular parks. This would reduce dependence on Ad Valorem for these projects and allowing them to be put back to the General Fund Contingency or to increase the general Funds Balance. In addition, the board should reject the payment given to the sheriffs who patrol the cities at night (Lipsky 124).

Challenges towards development of the plan

The first problem is that the county commissioners have restricted the revenue base by maintaining or slightly reduce the Ad Valorem millage rate during the five-year period. Furthermore, the South County’s bond rating faces the possibility of devalued in the market while the commission is against outstanding tax districts such as Municipal Service Tax Unit (MSTUs). Their reason has been that the voters would not support its adoption, except if the funds are used for something beneficial to the public.

Furthermore, Kitchen is nervous that if he did not come up with a viable idea, his administrator, Wiley, would not be pleased with his work and would sack him from his position of heading the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The other challenge is that unionized police forces are threatening to go on strike demanding an agreement on a new contract. This contract will thus contribute to extra expenses to the County if entered into.

The most preferred options

The most preferred option is the extension of the sales tax for fifteen years since it has three more years to run while it is an election year. If voted in, the county’s bond rating would be improved while projects would be planned in advance. Consequently, it will be endorsed by the board because it is inclusive of everyone including pedestrians, visitors and residents.

Data required from OMB to assisting in development plans and Decision making

I would request OMB to provide a detailed list of projects that are to be accomplished and expenses associated with them. The board would also be required to provide the detailed list of previous fiscal years of activities and projects that the county is involved in and their respective costs. This would help in determining the possible budget for the present fiscal year. The board would also be asked to provide a written analysis of the expenses involved in the previous activities and projects.

Consideration to be made in order to build political and public support for the plan

The sales tax rate should not be so high to a level that the public cannot manage to pay. In addition, more funds should be channeled towards those projects that are of benefit to the public in comparison to those which are less accessed by the public. If resources are scarce, those activities that are less urgent can be postponed for the time being while the urgent projects are to be financed to enable the public to utilize basic facilities.

Finally, those projects that are of benefit to the county administration should be given top priority to enable smooth administration process in the county. The tax collected cannot cover the whole cost of budget, therefore, there is a need for other sources of finances: the main source of extra funding has been the General Fund Contingency. A number of challenges have coupled up the county’s development plan, they include – restricted revenue to unionized police force going for strike. This leaves the committee with only alternative of extending sales tax. For transparency, the Board need to present detailed development plan budget. The sales tax need to be moderated to accommodate even the low-income earners in the county.

Works cited

Lipsky Michael, and Olson David. Commission politics: the processing of racial crisis in America. Chicago: Transaction Publishers, 1977.

Palmer Kenneth , Taylor Thomas , Lavigne Jean , and Brizzi Marcus. Maine Politics and Government: Politics and Governments of the American States. New York: U of Nebraska Press, 2009.

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