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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


County treated teachers, government workers equally

Public school teachers and staff got their raises approved this week, following a Worcester County Board of Education vote on Tuesday to shuffle money and to eliminate a number of positions, many of which were part-time.
The tenor of the public discussion preceding that vote, however, has been that the county commissioners slighted education in the coming fiscal year’s budget by not covering the school board’s budgeted wage increase for instructional and support personnel.
That’s not entirely fair, as the commissioners also did not raise the pay of their own employees and treated everyone on the government’s payroll equally.
That doesn’t make the absence of a raise any less painful, but it does show that the commissioners weren’t targeting education, but were instead trying to squeeze through the narrow crack between declining revenues and rising expenses.
Meanwhile, the incomes of many Worcester County households have yet to recover from the dives they took in the recession years, making any kind of tax increase unpopular enough, much less one that would cover all requests.
As is always the case in government and in most businesses, there is going to be waste or nonessential expenditures that can be eliminated or reduced.
The key is to know how much of that can be done without permanently damaging the institution itself so it can’t recover when the economic opportunity arises.
That, in effect, is what the school board did, when it sacrificed in some areas to meet the budgetary requirements in other areas.
The board’s moves won’t cause irreparable harm to the system, just as the commissioners’ refusal to fund pay raises won’t send it on a downward spiral.
What it really means is that the county has had to pull itself back from the fiscal brink created by an imploding economy that most people and governments never saw coming.
It’s not fun, but neither is it personal.