Looking over the budget at the last minute, I spy a mystery. As expected, representatives of the city are whining because the state withdrew their powers to perform the service of charging business privilege license taxes. Indifferent to the legislature’s point of view that lowering taxes for all businesses will make the state more attractive to entrepreneurs, local leadership says the action will hurt revenues. In other words, across-the-board savings, which we would call incentives if we wanted to spin this in a positive light, do not multiply.

Meanwhile, one of the hugest year-over-year changes in the budget is a $538,000 boost to the economic development fund. The city is going to increase its tax rate 1.5 cents. Then, it is going to give cronies lumps of money that will multiply like hotcakes, as I mix metaphors for your reading pleasure. The logic is, the mighty pump of government must be used to channel money only to those very special businesses that don’t know how to use IMPLAN.

Other budget highlights include the creation of ten stormwater positions. Again, that sounds so much better than saying we’re going to hire a construction crew to rape the environment with concrete. And while I’m on that subject, why was it so horrible for the General Assembly to propose withdrawing funding for driver’s education? If we want people to walk and bike their way out of the obesity crisis, government should make anybody wanting to leave a carbon footprint on the roads, as opposed to Lake Julian when they try to dry out after a soaking commute, pay for their own instruction.

Back to local government budgets, I don’t see how the published documents are supposed to convince the public there is no waste, other than to show broad, seven-digit line items they may find philosophically repugnant.