Barrow County Board of Commissioners Chairman Danny Yearwood has faced nine months of hell after taking office January 1.
As the economy continued to sink during the year, the chairman came under immense fire for making major cuts in county spending, especially with employee pay cuts and layoffs.
The way the chairman handled some of that could have been better. Mr. Yearwood isn’t the most diplomatic of public officials.
But at the end of the day, the decision to make major cuts early in the year was the right thing to do. That action kept the county solvent during 2009 and set the stage for it to finally adopt what appears to be a realistic budget for 2010.
It’s important to point out that this administration inherited most of these problems. While previous commissioners correctly note that they could not have predicted the massive economic decline that gripped the area, they are guilty of having created a county pay system that was poorly managed by staff and for allowing local government to get too big too quick.
What the current administration gets kudos for is having taken action quickly to cut expenses and for not bowing to pressure to raise property taxes.
There were a number of vocal “chicken littles” in the county who predicted the sky would fall unless Yearwood raised taxes and gave all county employees big raises.
But here’s the brutal reality: County government does not exist to guarantee employment for people. All governments exist to provide services to taxpayers. The BOC’s first obligation isn’t to its staff, it’s to the citizens who pay the taxes from which those services are financed.
Barrow County isn’t out of the woods yet. While the economy appears to be a little more stable, revenues to the county government will likely be flat for the next year.
Even as this budget is adopted by the BOC, it will require monthly monitoring to make sure county expenses remain down and within budget.
What you say is correct, however I'd like to see the county provide any services without the proper number of skilled employees. You can have all the equipment and buildings that you want, however just as this county is about the people not about the land, the government is run by and the services are provided by employees. No employees= no government, no services and no county. The employees are the service not the buildings or equipment you see.