Creative approaches are key in putting taxpayer dollars to better use

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In a system that is driven by state statutes, the Warren County Board of Supervisors operate in a world where their hands are largely tied on where and how they can spend taxpayer dollars.

Unlike a city government — where spending is far more discretionary — spending by the county is largely locked-in and allocated long before the first tax dollar is received or budgeted.

But even in a system where much is already decided, supervisors still have areas in which they can control spending, find efficiencies and stretch taxpayer dollars much further.

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In recent weeks, the Warren County Board of Supervisors has decided to put on hold a plan to place large, 30-yard dumpsters in the Eagle Lake community to aid in the removal of nearly 250,000 cubic square feet of debris left behind by the demolition of 24 flood-ravaged homes.

This cautious approach to agreeing to this clean-up plan was started by previous supervisors and has continued with the current board.

In their cautious approach, supervisors have revised the clean-up plan a number of times and now are seeking proposals for companies they feel could bring the expected cost of the cleanup even lower.

If some estimates are correct, what was once an $180,000 project may now come far, far cheaper.

In recent weeks, supervisors have discussed plans to review the county’s debt, looking for chances to potentially refinance some of it, freeing up tens of thousands in debt payments. And, they appear to have become far more aggressive in cleaning up their books by going after hundreds of thousands of unpaid garbage fees owed to the county.

None of these steps are outlined in state statutes on how or where to spend funds but rather are found in the margins of operating. Savings and lower expenses are found through creative approaches and fresh eyes; all of which supervisors appear to be bringing to many of the problems they are facing.

No one enjoys paying taxes and fees, but it is the cost of a free society; it is our portion. All we ask when we pay those taxes is that they are put to the best possible use. We appreciate the cautious approach being exercised to use those funds wisely.