A Hernando County Commission majority thinks Jeff Stabins' idea to turn a capital spending account into a rainy day fund is all wet.
Stabins, in a Jan. 30 guest column published in the Times, suggested the county should reduce a $12 million account — formerly designated for construction of a new judicial center — by 20 percent to help offset a projected $5.2 million budget shortfall beginning in October. Trimming the account would still require the commission to identify more than $2.7 million worth of additional cuts.
Tuesday, three commissioners threw water on his suggestion with Commissioners John Druzback, Wayne Dukes and Chairman Jim Adkins all favoring a more conservative approach of leaving its savings intact. It's a prudent decision and comes as the county ponders the escalating cost of dredging the Hernando Beach channel; deciding on how to meet future needs for court space; tackling a long-stalled cleanup of the former Department of Public Works site; and refurbishing the county jail.
It's a lengthy and costly to-do list that, in total, will likely exhaust a $12 million account and still leave the county trying to identify other funding sources.
Give Stabins credit for trying to find new alternatives since he has been unable to find majority support for even the most modest of fees to help balance the budget. Too frequently, the commission majority believes it can cut its way to prosperity. It's a misguided strategy.
Hernando County's general fund spending is down 39 percent over the past four years. The commission needs a broader view of trying to balance its budget beyond just the spending side of the ledger. But continuing to tap into savings isn't the way to do it.