For Sonoma County, a series of public workshops isn’t likely to generate surprises or miracle remedies for an $11 million budget shortfall.

In recent years, there has been a common refrain to budget meetings. People show up and say: Whatever you do, don’t cut spending on my favorite program or project. No one mentions what should be cut instead.

In real life, someone’s favorite program or project will be cut. Blame the worst economic conditions in 70 years. Blame political dysfunction in Sacramento. Blame state mandates that leave local government with little discretionary spending.

No one likes the situation in which needed programs are reduced or abandoned, but until state government chooses a more coherent approach to taxes and spending, not much is going to change.

Still, even without great revelations, these hearings could be useful. County officials should move around the county and hear what people have to say. (It’s good politics, too.)
We’re going through tough times. Politicians need to know what people are experiencing – and people need to understand the challenges faced by the politicians.

For the schedule of hearings over the next five weeks, check out the Bleys Rose story here.