The McCracken County Fiscal Court did as expected Monday night by unanimously approving an unpopular but likely necessary tax increase to stabilize a budget on life support.
Facing a myriad of financial problems, like a drained reserve fund, missed property tax revenue, recurring jail deficits, and unchecked pension increases, commissioners braced residents for weeks that new taxes on insurance premiums were coming. They explained their logic behind the new fees at length, transparency that was much needed.
Two recent examples were last weekend's guest column in The Sun by Judge-Executive Craig Clymer and a meeting commissioner Eddie Jones and Deputy Judge-Executive Steve Doolittle had with the editorial board at the beginning of the month.
They made a compelling case.
"Commissioners (Bill) Bartleman, Jones, (Jeff) Parker and I have examined this problem every way we know how," Clymer wrote in last Sunday's edition. "We have consulted experts, crunched numbers and studied all angles to find a way to avoid any tax.
"There is no alternative.
"All we can ask is that you have some confidence that we are being diligent, we are being fiscally conservative, and we are doing what you elected us to do -- to do what is best to make our community of McCracken County a home you, your children and grandchildren can be proud of and enjoy."
The editorial board appreciates Clymer, Jones and Doolittle's honesty leading up to Monday's decision.
The clarity they provided helped us, and hopefully the public, reach the conclusion that county leaders had, seemingly, no other moves to keep the county financially solvent.
Commissioners made the tough, uncomfortable (particularly for a GOP-led body), and right decision, which the editorial board considers a sign of leadership.
Don't misunderstand us, however. We're almost always opposed to new taxes, which are rarely justified. We've also been critics of this fiscal court on several occasions.
And we're still troubled by the fact that it was sloppy government -- local and state -- that created the budget problems and allowed them to fester for years before county residents were required to fork over the bailout money.
That can't happen again.
Nonetheless, the editorial board recognizes the budget woes were not created by this current fiscal court but were its inherited dilemma.
Our final takeaway from the situation is this: the new taxes should put all current and future local candidates for public office on notice -- economic development is this community's most important issue moving forward.
If you, as a candidate, can't bring anything to the table on that priority issue, don't bother running.
New taxes only go so far. New revenue goes a lot farther.