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What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, after noting the startling nature of a recommended county budget that avoided program and staffing cuts in the midst of a global pandemic, we also warned that “any celebration about the relatively tranquil nature of the 2021 budget should be somewhat muted.”
The rationale for our warning was our concern that several of the positive factors that relieved county leaders from difficult budget choices in 2021 were unlikely to be available in subsequent years. More specifically, we did not foresee that tens of millions of federal pandemic relief dollars would again come the county’s way, and we were skeptical that the county’s ability to keep a lid on health care and pension costs and withdraw healthy amounts from reserves would last much longer.
It turns out those doubts were misplaced – at least for the time being. For the second consecutive year, the 2022 recommended budget avoids significant service cuts, fee increases, and reductions to the county workforce. Instead, in even more startling fashion than...