Our View: Community will suffer for state’s failures

Published 10:16 am Friday, March 23, 2018

Developing a budget for a municipality like Winchester or a county like Clark is always going to be a precarious juggling act of living within the means, overcoming ever-increasing expenses while revenue stays flat and providing critical services to the community, all while being prepared for growth and opportunity.

This is daunting enough any time and this year state lawmakers are making it even more challenging by surrounding the process with uncertainty and the looming specter of sizable local contributions to bailout the state pension system.

For Clark County, the estimated cost of the potential payment is about $600,000. The city’s amount is expected to be nearly double at $1.16 million.

Email newsletter signup

County contributions for non-hazardous employees will increase slightly more than 28 percent while contributions required for hazardous duty employees will jump nearly 48 percent.

Because the pension reform bill is not likely to get the support to pass, that means a companion bill that would allow governments to phase in payments is also being discarded.

We expect the House and Senate to soon begin working on consolidation bills to iron out the differences between those adopted by each.

We hope they take into consideration the massive impact this could have on local communities that will be asked to start footing the bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars they simply don’t have to address a problem they didn’t create.

Clark County Fiscal Court began its budget hearings this week under this cloud of uncertainty.

If our legislators think counties and municipalities across the Commonwealth are in a position to absorb this type of impact without making significant sacrifices and cuts to vital services, they have their heads buried in the sand.

We cannot expect our local governments to clean up the mess made in Frankfort by putting it on the backs of our citizens.

It is time for lawmakers to do what they were elected to do — lead — and make the difficult decisions that create solutions rather than passing the buck back to our local communities.