Ronald Reagan and Central

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUE b“Unless bureaucracy is constantly resisted, it breaks down representative government and overwhelms democracy.” – Ronald Reagan
    Central stands today as a financially healthy city with good cash reserves and a surplus in our annual budget.  I credit the leadership of our appointed and elected officials for creating a city government that is efficient and streamlined, with limited government bureaucracy.
    In the quote above, Reagan points out the need to constantly resist governmental bureaucracy.  Here in Central we have had the distinct advantage of starting fresh as a city.  Thankfully, our elected officials, from the beginning, did not create bureaucracy.  We should heed Reagan’s advice and resist it going forward, and Reagan explains why:
“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.  Government programs, once launched, never disappear.” – Ronald Reagan
    I am a fan of limited government.  Reagan points out that each time government justifies increasing itself, that growth is here to stay.  I have been impressed through the first nine years that Central has not tried to increase the size and scope of government.  If we the taxpayers resist that tendency, as Reagan encouraged, I believe we can keep government growth in check.
    I have no objection to our government spending our tax dollars prudently in ways that benefit the city and its citizens.  I have often said that I would gladly spend a dollar of cash reserves today to save three dollars next year.  I also am a supporter of funding a $100k flood study that will likely save citizens millions of dollars in insurance premiums.  My objection is to the spending of tax dollars without a clearly proven benefit.  Reagan puts it this way:
“Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.” – Ronald Reagan
    I am a fan of zero based budgeting.  Tell us what you need, show us how much it will cost, tell us how it will benefit the city, and then vote on whether to fund it.  I have attended budget meetings for organizations and heard, “We spent $1,000 last year so how about $1,100 this year?”  In other words, as Reagan points out, “We have the money, so let’s spend it!”
    The biggest challenge in this process is knowing the difference between “needs” and “wants”.  A good starting point is to be able to show the benefit the taxpayer receives by spending this amount of taxpayer money.  Some people may “want” Central to have its own dog catcher, but since our tax dollars are already paying EBR to provide that service, it is not a “need”, it is a “want”.
    I am also not in favor of spending taxpayer dollars and justifying it “because we saved that much money in another area.”  If there are savings of tax dollars to be had by cutting waste or becoming more efficient, by all means do so.  But, don’t turn around and spend that money somewhere else just because we have it.  Justify the expense.
    I sat through the budget workshop and the adoption of Central’s 2014/2015 budget, as did most all of Central’s incoming elected officials.  It looks like this budget, to paraphrase the Reagan quotes above – resists bureaucracy, keeps government growth in check, and does not spend money just because it is there.  Let’s keep it that way.  That is Good News for a Great City.