I would love it at my house if just once a year, Sara the boys and I sat down and hammered out a budget. We’d work on it for a month with each of my boys coming before Momma and me seeking funds for food, clothing, rent and -- of course -- transportation and leisure.
Sara and I would sit around our big wooden table in the room with a high ceiling and ponder the pros and cons of each request and pencil in expenditures based on revenue projections.
We’d haggle for the pet projects that mean the most to us. I need a new truck, to which Sara would reply I haven’t ever had a new truck. She would request jewelry and accessories and I would point out her birthday is in September and if she is nice, Santa might fill in those line items in December.
But that’s not the way it works at Ingram Incorporated.
We do have a budget and we do usually set it up about tax time each year. Tithe, saving/retirement, mortgage, car payments, insurance, utilities and groceries are monthly expenditures on our list, just like at your house. And then there are medical bills, auto maintenance, appliance breakdowns and home repairs that always come out of no-where, just like at your house.
We just tighten our belt. I do without the new truck and Sara looks forward to Christmas – just like you do at your house.
Local school districts are typically the first to get their budgets done each summer so they are ready for the new school year. City and county government follow shortly.
Close to 80-percent of school budgets in districts across Coahoma County go to pay salaries. Teaching is one of the best paying jobs in this state and certainly in this county.
The rest of those school taxes go to computers, equipment and a hundred other ledger entries that make up the school budget. They also have a budget for maintenance of buildings, and just like the loan you got for your house, they pass bond issues to repair, remodel and expand theirs.
And this year $4,296,737 in addtional CARES funding will go to local schools, with Clarksdale getting $2,829,287 and Coahoama County getting $1,134,493.
Our schools and their payroll are a huge economic engine for our community. Our schools are also a defining factor in a community’s quality of life. That is why we need leaders who make sure we get the most bang for our buck.
City, County Budgets
City and county government are a little different.
Most cities across this rural state and even across this nation are slowly going broke.
In Coahoma County people are leaving Clarksdale, Lyon, Jonestown and Friars Point. As the property tax base erodes, the streets, parks, waterlines and police and fire services erode with them.
Clarksdale is in the middle of rolling out their city budget, with the Mayor and Council soon to be working overtime to hammer out a sound financial plan for us.
Lyon, Jonestown and Friars Point are looking at their revenue stream too, and wondering if they are going to have to cut jobs, reduce services or not buy that new truck like me.
Coahoma County government is the big taxing boy on the block and when they move, those movements – up or down – change the budget dramatically.
Supervisors – just like me – are looking at building maintenance, equipment repairs, vehicles, insurance and the daily cost of doing business. It quickly adds up.
And the county can be surprised with an unexpected expense such as a lawsuit, bad weather or just a major piece of road equipment that quits working.
We understand in these trying times the county had $31.60 in unencumbered funds to spend this year. Yep, that’s the price of a fast food meal for my family.
But the Ingrams can’t vote to increase their paycheck. Schools, cities and counties can.
We hope you have been reading the notices published in your Clarksdale Press Register on the budgets of your schools, your city and your county. It’s your money. How it’s spent is your business.
You see, this really is about the place we call home. How those budgets are set and how those tax dollars are used do make a difference in your life.
No, Santa Claus has no place in government at any level.
Ingrams are just thankful it’s only four months until Christmas. Because Santa Claus always has a way of making things up for Sara at the end of the year.
Floyd Ingram is the Editor of the Clarksdale Press Register. He gladly talk city, county and school budgets with anyone who will listen and can be reached at 627-2201.