Families cut back on expenses in response to the uncertain economic conditions across the region and across the country. More hamburger helper and fewer steak dinners; coupon cutting, fewer trips to the mall and fewer nights out for movies or dinner with more evenings home watching television. It's a constant search for ways to make ends meet.
That's what you do if you're behaving responsibly. But some local governments just don't seem to get it, and they don't respect belt-tightening families trying to live within their means.
Huron County commissioners appear to understand: Last week they began the process to slash next year's budgted expenses by $1.19 million. That reflects responsible leadership, and we tip our hats to commissioners Mike Adelman, Gary Bauer and Ralph Fegley. In Ottawa County the same sharp scissors are being sharpened to reduce expenses.
But leaders in Erie County just don't get it. The response here is ask for more money from taxpayers. For the third time in less than three years, Erie County commissioners Tom Ferrell Jr. and Nancy McKeen are considering yet another half-baked request for new tax money. They want to take a bigger bite of the shrinking disposable incomes struggling families have. While those families scrimp to save, Erie County leaders want to grab whatever cash might be left in their wallets. In Sandusky, commissioners also want to consider a tax hike: a 1/4 percent jump in the income tax rate residents pay.
Leaders need to respect and reflect the way families are approaching these difficult challenges and work harder to emulate them: Do more with less.
Streamline, regionalize, combine, cut staff rather than grow the bureaucracy and be responsible. Quit asking for more from taxpayers who have less and live within your means. This isn't rocket science. This is basic responsible leadership.