Good planning makes belt-tightening a little easier

Here on the Kenai Peninsula we can sometimes forget that what we do is part of a greater machine; that while we’d like to operate independently, we are in fact a small gear driven in a large machine.

In this case, that large machine is governmental funding. While we all pay our local property and sales taxes, many of the things that local government does best — paving roads, building infrastructure, plowing the snow and keeping up a basic quality of life — is supplemented by the state and federal government.

Kenai Peninsula Borough finance director Craig Chapman said the borough is seeing less funding from both of those sources and we’d venture a guess that as the state and feds tighten their belts, so will our local cities be forced to.

As our area governments work to put the polish on their fiscal year 2014 budgets, we’d encourage caution and prudence as the financial outlook of this state and federal government are clouded. We’re happy to live in areas where municipal budgets have long been managed responsibly. So, keep it up.

While it may be tempting to celebrate the end of a national recession by opening the pocketbook here at home, we need to remember that fiscal issues can be a roller coaster. There will always be more needs than funding, especially on capital projects. In the next couple of years let’s make sure needs aren’t simply wants and that when state or federal funding runs out on big ticket items we aren’t left to pick up the bill, so to speak.

To that end, we see both Kenai and Soldotna are looking far down the road on capital projects and planning. We think a round of applause is needed. Many municipalities around the nation don’t have the patience or foresight to craft such plans.

Just like ratcheting down a budget, looking down the road with so many variables and opinions is certainly a headache. But the temporary pain we work through now on fiscal and planning issues will save us a lot of suffering in the end.

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