Thursday, June 30, 2022

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Graham, NC 27253
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Burlington looking to fritter away surplus that should go to taxpayers

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It’s not just county taxpayers who are getting the short end of the budget stick (see editorial comments above).

Burlington city councilmen are contemplating how they should fritter away $10.5 million in surplus revenue that the city has.

Yes, really. That’s what it amounts to.

From our perspective, the council over-taxed its residents to the tune of $10.5 million.
May we be so bold as to suggest perhaps the taxpayers deserve at least some of the frittering money back.

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So now, rather than looking at banking the money (for a rainy day), or returning it to the source (the taxpayers), they heard a litany of nifty projects where interim city manager David Cheek suggests they could spend it – all of it.

Cheek is one of the nicest bureaucrats you could hope to have – ongoing, as he was as Mebane’s city manager, or temporarily, as he is in Burlington.

But the ongoing flaw in Cheek’s government philosophy is that government should grow, government should spend more money, and that taxpayers are a last consideration.

Unfortunately, that was all too often the approach in Mebane, and now Cheek has brought that same spendthrift budgeting approach to Burlington.

He may be on duty for only a few months, but he’ll help direct spending more money than Burlington’s had in years.

We’re always amused at the budget purists who insist that one-time savings or surpluses, such as this year’s in Burlington, shouldn’t be spent on ongoing expenses – or on tax cuts.
That is, unless it happens to fit their preference.

For instance, Burlington city council members have shown no reluctance whatsoever to spend millions, cumulatively, on higher salaries and bonuses for everyone in city government – late last year as well as both earlier this year and in the budget they adopted this week.

These are ongoing, annual expenses inasmuch as the increases in pay rates will go on and on, year after year.

But when anyone (such as this newspaper) suggests that perhaps taxpayers should share in the surplus, it seems city bureaucrats and officials become ever so cost-conscious, afraid to let taxpayers have any of their dollars back – because, don’t you know, the bureaucrats might need to spend some more of it next month or later in the fiscal year.

Unfortunately, Burlington taxpayers seem to have become resigned to the fact that the city fathers (and councilwoman Kathy Hykes) will simply blow through the revenues, even surplus millions – without much of a second thought.

We’re always surprised that so few people run for office – in Burlington or elsewhere. We’re afraid it’s a sign they’ve given up on thinking anyone can make a difference.

We wish more people – either now in office, or those contemplating a future run – would give a higher priority to the taxpayers whose hard-earned tax dollars put Burlington into the surplus situation it’s in.

They deserve a break.

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