Faith-based budgeting | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Faith-based budgeting

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 6:21 AM

Tom Courtway, acting president of UCA, admitted straight up yesterday that the college is in a tight spot to cover a line of credit and a $3.5 million state advance. But he vows to make cuts necessary to do it.

He ominously mentioned that the freely given scholarships for the school's growing student enrollment might have to be cut. In the Lu Hardin presidential days, the university kept "betting on the come," as they say in the casinos. He put his faith in the idea that growth would eventually offset the wager and then some. UCA couldn't roll enough 7s. Perhaps the coming lottery would have changed all that, with its scholarship millions, but Lu won't be around to see.

Meanwhile, for more faith-based budgeting, we move to the Pulaski Quorum Court. Last night, only a nervous comptroller stood between the JPs and more deficit spending. Given history, you knew the outcome. Deficit spending won, 10-5.

County employees -- and that includes the JPs themselves and countywide officials such as the judge, treasurer, assessor, etc. -- were given a 3 percent pay bonus. We are supposed to feel sorry for them because a 5 percent bonus was on the table.

In 12 months, county elected officials have now given themselves, and other county employees, a cumulative 11 percent pay boost in raises and  bonuses. But don't forget the fuller context of county employment. County employees, among a dwindling minority in the U.S., enjoy fully paid health insurance, no matter how much costs rise each year. They also enjoy contributions by taxpayers to a defined benefit retirement plan, another quaint and deluxe benefit enjoyed by a tiny few in the private sector. Thus, even in a year when they get no pay raise (never mind 11 percent), county employees enjoy the significant comfort of health and retirement benefits unmatched in the private sector.

It is no slam on county employees -- many deserving and many undoubtedly underpaid -- to say again: this is nuts. The country is in a near recessionary slump. Tax revenues in the future are uncertain. And the county Quorum Court voted last night to up its planned deficit spending to $1.75 million or so?

Nuts.

County Judge Buddy Villines, slammed this morning in a Democrat-Gazette editorial endorsing his Republican opponent Phil Wyrick, could restore a little of his management luster today by vetoing the pay ordinance. Suggested veto message: "The county can't afford it. And, members of the Quorum Court, you and I haven't earned it."

 


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