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Citizens' budget advisory group works!

Date published: 12/10/2013

Citizens' budget advisory group works!

As an original member of Spotsylvania County's Citizens' Budget Review Committee, and as its current chairman, I believe the citizens of Fredericksburg, and its elected and appointed government officials, may gain from Spotsylvania's experience ["City Council debates need for budget advice," Dec. 8].

There appear to be two objections to the concept of a budget advisory group expressed in the above article. One relates to the fear a volunteer citizens' group may "overstep the Council's duties" and the other that the Spotsylvania Committee was "mired in politics."

There is no question that the Board of Supervisors in the county has ultimate, and sole, authority over all budgets and expenditures. That was why the term "advisory" was a part of the original charge and still is in the title of the committee. Nobody on the committee has any illusions that our effort--and input--is anything other than advisory. Board members are free to accept, or reject, our advice.

The advantage is that the members of our committee represent each of the supervisory districts, and our members have backgrounds as diverse as consulting, retired military, a pastor and a businessman. Each brings a unique background and in effect the combined effort of the committee is to act as an "extra" set of eyes and ears for the supervisors. No elected official has the time, or the energy, to dive into budget minutiae. The committee members do have that time, and the expertise, to analyze budget proposals.

With respect to politics, it is significant that two of the current Board of Supervisors were original committee members. Yes, there was some political pushback initially. Interestingly enough, for some reason, those members who did push back no longer serve on the Board of Supervisors.

Alfred M. King