Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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December 23rd, 2011

Budget Did Not Even Deserve a Vote

People often view the glass as being half full or half empty depending if they observe a particular situation with optimism or pessimism. Although the glass theory may be sort of a litmus test to determine situations seen by different people, things in Sullivan County are so bad we could soon be left without the glass.

The outgoing Sullivan County legislature voted last week not to approve the budget proposed by County Manager David Fanslau. For some the vote was based on principals, while for others it was spite work. I am told certain outgoing legislators said they would have voted for the budget if certain legislators did, that did not happen, hence the nay vote.

In all honestly, the budget did not even deserve a vote. County reserves have been raided, while fiduciary responsibilities and proper management have been overshadowed by a need to appease certain individuals. There are just so many times one can blame state mandates for our fiscal problems.

The preliminary budget should have been released before November so there could have been ample time for discussion and possible changes. When I criticized the time frame, Fanslau alleged partisan politics and banned this column from being viewed on county computers.

County Treasurer Ira Cohen, an often vocal critic of Fanslau’s and our outgoing legislature, discussed last week’s vote with me. Cohen said the preliminary budget should have been prepared with one goal in mind, “fiscal integrity and soundness. Instead, the manager’s budget message proclaimed that it was fiscally unsound, but was the best he could do in light of the legislature’s directive not to override the tax cap.”

Cohen, who seldom was asked for any input, claimed the legislature “squandered its opportunity to modify the preliminary budget by also failing to leave itself any options but to balance the 2012 budget by exhausting most, if not all of the county’s general fund balance. They failed to meet regularly or engage in any meaningful dialogue in order to propose and agree upon a fiscally responsible budget.”

“Their failure to adopt a final budget, leaving us with the manager’s admittedly unsound budget, is a sad, but fitting swan song for this inane and inept legislative body, and will put both the county taxpayers and their newly elected representatives in grave danger of financial disaster.”

The sad reality is that a select group of people, in a very powerful inner circle, have been doing very well while the rest of Sullivan County has been suffering. These people are now squandering for cover, because they know things are changing and open accountable government is on the way. Naturally they will do everything they can to prevent change, and argue there should be no change just for the sake of change.

A new legislature consisting of professional, not political, pristine leadership will be seated in January, and we can likely expect to see some bold moves within the first several weeks that will positively shake things up in Sullivan County.
Obviously, results do not happen overnight, but I am certain our newly elected members of the legislature are already going through our budget with a fine tooth comb and are coming up with a plan of action. Hopefully, we will still have some water in that glass so we can stay afloat until that happens.

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