Our View

Time to make the tough decisions

Over the next couple of weeks, all the state’s towns and school districts will be introducing their next budgets.

In some of our communities, officials are already making it clear that property taxpayers should brace for a large increase. They are talking about what a tough year it has been and the adversity their towns and school districts have faced.

It’s clear that many agencies are grappling with difficult situations, but it is also clear that some members of councils and boards are having a difficult time coming to grips with just how difficult things are for others right now.

Before they cast their final ballots on a new tax rate, all these officials should stop to consider that they are not the only ones who have had a tough year.

Last year was a tough one for a lot of people in our area: Some lost jobs, some lost investments and some lost their businesses.

For those people, a sizable tax increase isn’t just another burden; it’s a burden they are in no position to bear. Unlike a council or school board, they cannot simply vote to take more of someone else’s money; their situation will probably be a good deal more difficult to resolve.

Gov. James McGreevey has been touring the state speaking about the hard decisions he had to make in this year’s state budget and urging local officials to make similar hard decisions.

No matter what you think of the governor on other issues, it is hard to find fault with him on this one. He is right to note that while state government has been shrinking, county and municipal governments have been growing.

It’s time for elected officials to stop thinking in terms of limiting growth and to consider what we have now that we can do without. That’s the type of decision some families make every day.

A tough year isn’t when you do without some of the things you want; it is when you have to do without some of the things you need.