By James Dunning
Editor’s Note: These “Moment of Reflection” remarks were delivered by Eau Claire County Supervisor James Dunning, District 18, on Tuesday evening before the County Board began its final consideration of the county’s 2018 budget. Dunning chairs the County’s Budget and Finance Committee.
Moment of Reflection
Tonight we start the approval of the 2018 County budget as a committee of the whole, with the goal of finalizing the budget. We will be reviewing what sub-committees, department directors and administrators have been reviewing since early in the year. Input has been received and evaluated for each department and then re-considered as to what is best for the citizens of Eau Claire County for now and in the future.
As we consider this budget, it brings into perspective what our role is as County Supervisors. What were we really elected to do? We are looking at a budget that provides a minimum level for helping the “least of these,” for providing for the sick, the homeless and the elderly, for helping the incarcerated, for assisting the veterans who have given us our freedom, for providing the basic necessities for community existence such as roads and bridges, for guiding the development of a better local economy, for protecting the planet that was given to us by past generations so we could give it to the generations to come and at the same time providing for more than 500 employees and protecting the financial health of the County tax payers. We are doing as elected representatives what would be difficult for individuals.
This document becomes a symbol of our beliefs as humans. It becomes a moral document. This budget is a moral statement of our priorities. It tells us, mathematically, what areas, issues, things, or people are most important to the creators of this budget, and which are least important.
As I processed this thought, I found it to be very appropriate for us as a County Board to fully understand how the decisions we make tonight not only provide for the health, safety and prosperity of our community, but also how these decisions affect those who pay the taxes.
We have a moral duty to recognize and understand how we as elected officials strengthen our community, our nation, our world and lift up those who are struggling and to work toward the good for all.
The Finance and Budget Committee, department administrators, oversight committees and administration have tried to bring these principles to you in this budget with new approaches, department collaboration, awareness of state law and an attempt to prevent future problems.
Let us begin the discussion.