Sun Editorial: Get involved in your local municipal and school district budgets

It’s that time of year again when tough decisions have to be made.

BY SUN STAFF

If you sit on a school board or municipal governing body, you’re entering the part of the year that probably causes you the most headaches.

It’s budget time. It’s time to do the impossible: provide outstanding service for little or no money.

A few years ago, Gov. Christie made headlines — and more than a few enemies — when he slashed state funding and eventually added a 2 percent cap on tax hikes.

Since then, at least some of the money has returned. Sometime this month, the governor will release state funding figures for this year.

But it’s safe to say that no school district or town will find itself rolling in dough.

Governing bodies will continue to face decisions that involve reducing or holding the line on services and/or raising taxes. And we all love more taxes, don’t we?

We already pay the highest property taxes in the nation, so why not pay more?

One bright spot — some would s ay the only bright spot — to come of this is that many governing bodies these days have made the budget process open to the public.

“Transparent” is the watchword today.

It’s a smart move to involve the public — everyone from those who want to cut taxes to the bone to those who would like to see expanded services.

When the public is invited in, they not only see the difficult choices leaders have to make, but they also feel like they have a voice. Leaders are listening to them. Their input is valued.

While not everyone will be happy with every decision, at least there is a sense of inclusion and “ownership” of the process.

We encourage everyone to get involved with their local budget processes this year. In most instances, there will be hearings. Items will be posted online.

It’s easy to offer your suggestions to the people who eventually will make the final decision.