Maintaining that delicate balance between want, need and have is the primary assignment of elected officials, even though every one of them is likely to list this obligation as the most troubling.
Although holding office does have its rewards — a little bit of prestige, public recognition and influence — all that goes out the window for officeholders when it’s time to deliver uncomfortable news.
Hence the visible discomfort of the mayor and council of Berlin Monday as they discussed how to cover the difference between the costs of what they and residents want and need and the revenue the town is projected to receive.
That difference, at $342,000 and change, isn’t an insurmountable amount of money to recover or generate, of course, but it does put town officials in the awkward position of having to find a remedy that will be the least painful to the most people.
In other words, the mayor and council’s next step will be to decide who they’re going to disappoint or make mad by cutting into the town’s list of things to do, by adjusting taxes and fees or by employing some combination of the two.
This is not, however, going to be the one-and-done thing the mayor and council hope to see. Residents and officials might as well get used to the idea that the town will experience many more years like this one, when the want, need and have just don’t match up.
As Councilmember Shaneka Nichols observed, growth and development drive costs up overall for the town. That’s true, but the absence of growth and development drives costs up for the individual if residents want to keep the town attractive and successful.
There’s no getting around it, which means the mayor and council have no good options other than to make the hard choices, take the criticism and prepare themselves for similar circumstances in the future. That is, of course, as long as taxpayers want to live in a nice town where their expectations are met.