Blaine County taxpayers got a $1.9 million monkey off the back of public officials this month when they approved a levy to subsidize nursing-home operations.
Taxpayers kept faith with the elderly and infirm. Now the Blaine County commissioners need to keep faith with taxpayers by holding the line on new expenses until the local economy improves.
With the vote, taxpayers removed the commissioners' burden of deciding whether to close the facility or to fund it with reserves until they're depleted. A nonprofit foundation now has two years to come up with a workable plan to build a private residential care facility.
Consequently, the commissioners didn't have to face the emotionally charged decision of whether to send grandmas and grandpas packing to destinations far removed from family and friends.
Approving the levy was a generous and humane act by taxpayers who are struggling to adapt to the harsh realities of a changed economic landscape.
They supported the levy despite facing reduced paychecks and benefits themselves, and despite the precarious economic environment for local businesses.
Now some commissioners want to create the new position of human resources manager. The rationale is that the new hire would free the county administrator to concentrate on public policy issues.
The irony is that in 2007 the commissioners created the administrator's position to free themselves from day-to-day management matters in order to get more time to work on public policy.
They have cut staff through attrition, but with the economy still uncertain, the county should make do with what it's got.