Comments from County Legislature Chairman Jay Gould made this corner cringe last week.
Jumping on the outgoing County Executive Greg Edwards' bandwagon, Gould was ready with an excuse in regard to the upcoming spending proposal.
"We control very little of our actual budget," he told WDOE Radio. "Most of it is state-mandated. I want to say 13 percent, but I'm not even sure it's that much that we control locally anymore."
For starters, the County Home - with an expense of nearly $22 million - is 8 percent of the budget. That is all locally controlled.
Low welfare to work levels, 13 percent under the state average, are locally controlled. If the levels are higher, then the Medicaid cost paid by the county decreases.
And generous salaries and benefits, all approved by local legislators who "control very little," contribute to 32 percent of the budget costs, as well.
That's already 40 percent of local control in just the simple arithmetic.
But the big questions for county legislators are this: if you have nearly no control over the budget, then why take two months to go over it with a fine-tooth comb? Also, if you have such little control, then why will we still need 19 of you in the future?
A county manager would be better at getting finances in order. But those local legislators don't want that type of local control.
Instead, we are almost more comfortable with legislators, such as Gould, telling us how helpless we are each year when it comes to running a $270 million entity. That is never reassuring.