Kudos are in order to the city of Danville for achieving a $1.8 million surplus as it nears the end of its fiscal year. At a time when most local and state governments are struggling, this is welcome news.
Much credit was given to department heads for watching expenses, but also credited were receipts from the tax on alcohol sales, which accounted for close to half of the surplus. Occupational tax revenues were up as well.
Whether this is a sign that the economy is improving is yet to be seen. We can only hope. Other signs remain discouraging.
You have to wonder why a city with a $1.8 million surplus — one in large part a result of taxes on alcohol — would be wringing its hands over a little police overtime during a weekend festival. But, you know, it’s Danville and the current administration is not shy in its disdain for anything the Heart of Danville might claim as a success.
Last year’s Kentucky State BBQ Festival drew thousands to this small town, and it doesn’t take a calculator to know that local businesses, and by extension city government, reaped well in excess of the cost of closing a few streets and paying a few officers time and a half. A direct result is the ability to fully staff a police force.
Even the city’s suggested fee for that event — $500 a day — begs the question, “Why even bother?” other than to simply make a statement. That amount doesn’t cover the overtime, according to the police chief, but it can put a real dent in the profit organizers count on to make the event a success.
The whole purpose of events like the BBQ festival, the brass band festival and others is to bring vitality into a community, to generate activity that results in economic gain. City government ought to be asking itself how much more it can contribute to the effort.
The Boyle County Sheriff’s Department is operating at 1985 staffing levels, with overtime slamming the budget. As crime escalates in a bad economy and the prescription drug abuse scourge is epidemic, manpower is not the kind of problem a sheriff needs as a distraction.
Understaffed sheriff’s offices are nothing new but to expect Boyle County’s police force to operate at the same level as it did 27 years ago is unrealistic, and dangerous. The demands placed on the sheriff’s office are greater, and not just from a patrolling standpoint.
Somehow, the county needs to find a way to correct this shortage of manpower.
Legalizing alcohol sales countywide is not likely to be the answer. There is only so much sugar in a 5-pound bag.
It’s time for some innovation on the part of our magistrates, and perhaps a close look at where money might be diverted to this cause.