Published DateTo the editor,
A favorite analogy for bureaucratic budget discussions is "the kitchen table", the family budget. It seems simple and easy for non-bureaucrats to relate to. So let's discuss that in light of the recent Belknap County Delegation's suggestion to micromanage the county budget and take discretionary power away from the elected commissioners.
Imagine that you have created your household budget for fuel, mortgage, health insurance, transportation, utilities, entertainment etc. based on the current income of your family. You have dutifully allocated a certain amount for each item based on current and projected costs. Now, imagine that there is an especially harsh winter and it becomes necessary to heat your home for a longer slightly longer season, and at the same time the price of heating fuel goes up. Or suppose you have an unexpected household emergency such as a roof leaking as a result of an ice dam? You might logically decide to juggle your budget a bit and take some money from transportation or utilities or entertainment to cover this unexpected change. Now imagine that some outside agency prevented you from making this necessary adjustment.
Would this make any sense? Well that is exactly what the delegation is attempting to do. It is telling our elected commissioners that once they have created a budget and allocated funds for specific areas — the nursing home, department of corrections, sheriff's department, county administration — there can never be a change. They cannot move funds from one area to another no matter what emergency or circumstance arises. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all had crystal balls and could predict the future. Having the ability to make necessary changes is essential for both kitchen table budgets as well as the bureaucratic ones.