Monday, November 17, 2008

Trickle down

Virginia's budget woes are trickling down to localities more and more every day. CCC has previously posted on the grist shortage that is impacting local governments, schools, and families. If you are like me, you are being a little more diligent about turning off lights and switching to energy efficient bulbs when the old ones die. We've turned the temp down a couple degrees and are using the wood stove more. Actually, we've done those things already and we never go to Starbucks and rarely go out to eat or the movies. What's left?
Counties and smaller cities across the commonwealth are finding new ways to save a few dollars. Staunton has turned off lights in parking garages during the day and is setting stop lights to blink at night to save electricity. Might also save gas for motorists? The Queen City is also combing public notices in newspaper ads. Bath County is giving a serious look at a four day school week to save on transportation and heating costs. Attendance at the Virginia Association of Counties Conference in Hot Springs was way down as localities trim travel costs. Hiring freezes are in place just about everywhere... most troubling when it affects public safety. There's more in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Rural Localities Stretch Dollars.
Virginia isn't alone in scrambling to deal with the Bush downturn... recession... depression whatever you want to call our current situation. Yeah, I think the word depression is right-on in some communities. The hardest hit states are those which enjoyed housing booms that melted down in the subprime loans - California, Rhode Island, Florida, Arizona, and others. Compounding the situation is rising unemployment just as state unemployment funds are running on empty. States that rely on tourism are struggling. Oil producing states were doing well when oil was well over $100 a barrel, but are hurting as prices have been on a downward slide. And the prospects of a dismal holiday shopping season means less revenue from sales taxes, less part time employment... bad news all around for state and local government.
So, things are tough in Virginia and our localities, but it is worse in other places. The New York Times has more in Facing Deficits, States Get Out Sharper Knives.

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