School administrators and local elected officials must envy members of Congress. Lawmakers at the federal level must have an easier job, considering how often they can choose to make everyone happy.
For example, Tiffin?City Schools Board of Education members agonized Tuesday over approving a pay-to-participate plan for extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, Seneca County officials had to defend a controversial decision to raze the 1884 courthouse.
But members of Congress have been debating whether to extend a reduction in a payroll tax that supports an already underfunded Social Security system. Yes, the same Social Security whose trust fund has been raided to cover previous budget deficits.
Legislators can't seem to agree on how to cover the cost of the reduction; the current rollback was left unfunded.
Local governments in Ohio can't run up debt like the federal version. That can require difficult decisions even when revenues are stable. When budgets have to be reduced, those decisions get even tougher.
School district residents might not like the pay-to-participate idea. But the majority of district voters also showed a distaste for paying more taxes. Thus, school board members are left to make choices they also find distasteful.
The decision to raze the 1884 courthouse didn't come easy, either. But at least two commissioners looked at county finances and economic pressures over the past few decades, and predicted where those trends are heading over the next 30 years, and decided mortgaging the county's future on renovating the courthouse would be imprudent.
Indeed, considering how village, municipal and township governments and school districts will have to handle rising energy and health insurance costs on their own, the cooperative approach for commissioners would be to keep county expenses as low as possible. Local revenues for all of those entities comes from the pockets of the same taxpayers - people who face rising electric bills and health care costs, too.
Maybe that's a pessimistic outlook. Perhaps economic growth and full employment are just a few years away. Let's all hope so. Because some day, decision makers in Washington will have to figure out a way to balance federal budgets - and begin paying back a national debt that already tops $15 trillion. How much would the annual payments be to retire that debt over 30 years? Wonder who might have to pay that debt?