There is still time on the clock

Budget deficits in this day and age happen to governments from big-spending Washington to cash-strapped struggling industrial communities.

We get that.

What we cannot fathom is what’s on the minds of a majority of Weirton Council regarding a pending budget gap that still has weeks of time left to resolve before the start of the next fiscal year.

While the council, on a split vote with Mayor George Kondik rightly casting the tiebreaker, turned down a Business and Occupation Tax increase that would have put the operation of city government squarely on the backs of small business, it also cut municipal safety fees, on a 4-3 vote.

The net result is a wider deficit, with council not expressing much desire to go consider further proposals, which could have included an increased set of safety fees in one alternative that wasn’t used without an increased Business and Occupation tax.

There are ways to achieve a closure of the $1.6 budget hole, but reducing revenue by more than $400,000, putting the deficit projection back about $2 million.

City Councilman Terry Weigel summed it up best noting that there have been other proposals and departments that have cut staff and expenses over the years and that there are still alternatives to be pursued and a deficit that still hasn’t been wiped out with a plan.

Differences in opinion are healthy in government because they indicate thought is being put into the operation. The defeat of the tax indicates a government that indeed listens to the community.

But leaving a job worse than half undone is not an answer.

It’s not about fireworks costs, either, because we believe corporate sponsors and donations can still make a July 4 celebration possible. It works in other area communities. The fireworks ended up tabled after the pair of budget votes Monday.

The fiscal year starts July 1. True leadership can set a course by then. It won’t be palatable to every resident, but it won’t destroy business and employment as a result of Monday’s votes.

The clock is ticking.