REGISTER VIEWPOINT: County must set and stand by budget priorities

We appreciate the challenge that diminishing revenue and increasing demand for services puts on local governments. It's impor
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

We appreciate the challenge that diminishing revenue and increasing demand for services puts on local governments.

It's important every decision maker in government carefully review needs and prioritize spending.

We're not aghast at the sizable budget increases county officials from various departments requested last week. But asking for additional funding should be viewed as a first step in prioritizing -- and cutting -- expenditures.

There's just not enough in the coffers to expect budget increases, and that means department heads need to be looking for ways to cut expenses and increase the productivity of their current workforce.

County departments want more money to hire additional employees:

The prosecutor's office asked for an additional $93,727; the clerk of courts office wants an additional $159,401; and the human resources department wants $22,212.

These department heads and elected officials are asking for larger payrolls in an era of contraction. It just won't work.

Perhaps the most troubling budget request comes from Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons -- a whopping $900,000 hike over his 2007 budget.

It's the most troubling because the sheriff's department's priorities -- particularly jail operations and warrant services -- desperately need to be addressed.

There have been some baby steps made recently toward alleviating jail overcrowding, but it's a far cry from the careful analysis and prioritization that's needed.

And it's way past due.

We urge county commissioners to set their own priorities and work with Lyons to make the hard decisions needed.

Residents deserve a functional and efficient jail equal to the task of housing as many inmates as necessary -- now, and in the future.