As Lycoming County looks at tax hike, frugality is more vital than ever

Lycoming County department heads have cut their original budget requests for 2018 by about $11 million, according to Beth Johnston, director of county fiscal services.

Considering that the Lycoming County Commissioners last week unveiled a preliminary budget that increases taxes by 0.75 mills and still carries a $5 million operating deficit, the cutting better not be over.

We understand the point of the relatively small tax hike.

The commissioners indicated the message they have been receiving from the public is that they would prefer a small increase now that prevents a larger one in the future.

That’s fine, as long as the approach of the county government’s leaders is, in the long-term, to get their fiscal house in the kind of shape that the deficit spending ends and tax increases aren’t necessary.

To that end, there is no harm in Commissioner Rick Mirabito’s suggestion that each department head and elected official identify at least two positions that they would eliminate in the next calendar year based on attrition or reorganization and supply that information to the commissioners by Nov. 22.

That’s a tried-and-true model that is used every day in the private sector when businesses are looking to streamline costs with minimal pain to employees.

County government has taken on a larger, more broad-ranging role in recent years.

That cannot be done without any change in the budget size.

But the same principals of taxpayer-supported government should not end with that expanded role.

It is still incumbent on everyone that is in a county government leadership role to strongly consider the most frugal way to run operations efficiently.

We hope that is the spirit of the next round of budget examination in the next few weeks.