When the Menominee County Board of Commissioners hired Jason Carviou as county administrator a few years ago they wanted someone who would develop a balanced budget and stick to it. Carviou had his biggest challenge so far in preparing the 2019-2020 budget.

One of his toughest decisions was cutting $25,000 from the county library funding. As might be expected, there was a backlash from the rural communities most affected by the cut. Leaders from the library supporters protested vigorously and made a strong argument in pleading their case. The board, by a 7-2 vote, accepted the proposed budget which included the cuts.

The task of preparing a balanced budget has never been an easy job for the person charged with the assignment. His final piece of work must be approved by the finance committee before it goes to the full county board. The library protests started at the committee level.

Carviou stressed time and again during the deliberations that he had no personal agenda against the library when he initially proposed to shave $25,000 from the library portion of the budget. There was even talk of eliminating the 4-H position, which would have been another blow to rural residents. However, Carviou managed to find a way to retain the position.

No doubt other departments in county government didn’t get what they wanted in the budget. But if county commissioners were to stick to their guns and insist on a balanced budget some areas were going to feel the pain of the budget calculator.

What adds to the pain for rural library supporters is the fact that Spies Public Library in the city recently received a $1.9 million windfall from former citizens. The rural areas take a hit while a library located in the city accepts a sizable gift. Emphasizing that the Spies facility is a public library and anyone from the county is entitled to use it doesn’t soothe the hurt in the rural districts.

The 2019-20 budget will likely weigh heavily on the shoulders of the county administrator and county commissioners for a long time. It will be a test for the county board to stick to the budget process in the ensuing fiscal year. Pet projects and a battery of unknowns are bound to come up in the next fiscal year that will put the administrator and the commissioners in the eyes of a storm from the rural communities who will be watching every budget move.

Before we know it, the administrator and the board will be right back at it preparing the next fiscal budget and the same painful decisions will have to be made without raising taxes. Perhaps it’s time to consider putting some of these decisions in the hands of voters via special millage tax.