This has been my budget study week. What a contrast discovered between the Beaufort County school district website versus that of the county.
First, the school district website: It includes a summary by department, then a detailed schedule of each department's spending, comparing the proposed 2014 budget to the forecast spending for 2013, plus actual spending for three prior years. Revenue budgets were compared to previous years. The website included an excellent 30-page budget presentation made to County Council. A job well done. In corporate life, this would have earned recognition.
Second, Beaufort County's website: I pulled up "Finance" and clicked on the "2014 budget." What did I get? Absolutely nothing. What are County Council and its Finance Committee doing? In corporate life, the reward would be getting fired. Council members get paid for up to 144 meetings a year. Why not set policy and demand transparency?
The big joke is on taxpayers. The council approves the district's tax rate, and in previous years demanded more school data, while receiving little information on their own budget. County Council needs a strong citizen committee overseeing the county's own budgets.
County library hours have been drastically reduced, with the 2013 budget cut 25 percent when compared with 2008. Yet the county underspent this reduced budget by more than $350,000 in 2012 and looks like another $370,000 for 2013. Where did the money go? Whose policy is this? Administration? Council? Both? Nobody?