Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

November 20, 2018 Budget process begins for fiscal year
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

Johnson County is beginning the budgeting process for fiscal year 2020 (FY20), which will begin July 1, 2019. Here are some ongoing budget issues, and my take on them:

General fund versus rural fund: If you pay property taxes in Johnson County, you pay into the general fund. All taxpayers do. If you live in the unincorporated area of the county, you also pay into the rural fund. The rural fund covers expenses specific to rural residents – mostly roads, but also libraries, landfill and a couple smaller expenses. There are wide variations between counties as to what should be supported by the rural fund.

Any single individual can easily create a budget: It isn’t that hard to support the programs and services you like, then cut the ones you don’t. It is much more difficult to do this for 155,000 people.

Similarly, it isn’t that hard to decide how much you think you ought to pay in taxes, then apply that countywide. It is more difficult when you then recognize how many valuable services would need to be cut. Creating a budget that works for 155,000 people is challenging.

Taxes versus services: I had a man complain to me about his taxes. The next day, his wife complained about the condition of their road. They simply can’t have it both ways. Yes, this is an anecdote, but it sums up the fundamental budgetary difficulty – people want to pay less in taxes, but get more services. It cannot be done.

Conservative budgeting versus low taxes: It is important for folks to recognize that the lowest possible tax rate does not equate to the most conservative budgeting. For example – the most conservative budgeting includes money for maintenance.

You need to spend money on upkeep, whether roads, buildings, or vehicles – or you’ll spend more in the long run. And I refuse to buy into the idea that taxes are inherently evil. Taxes are the price of supporting a civilized society.

Want to know a government’s priorities? Look at the budget. With that said, I encourage residents to join us at our budget meetings. (The calendar is on the website.) Meanwhile, what are your priorities? Now is the time to let us know.

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