By Pete Zamplas- Conservative US Mark Meadows, in seeking a second term in the election Nov. 4, is touting Republican adeptness for responsible budgeting and stronger foreign policy such as in dealing with terrorist forces.

Mark Randall Meadows, 55, as a self-made businessman and real estate investor, beat a crowded GOP primary field in 2012. That fall, he easily beat predecessor Heath Shuler's right-hand man, Hayden Rogers, by 15 percent for the seat in Washington that represents Henderson and 14 other WNC counties. Meadows was unchallenged in the GOP primary in May. He faces Democrats' nominee Tom Hill of Zirconia.

Meadows was prophetic when talking with The Tribune a year ago, in warning about Islamic extremist threats rising in Syria. This year marked emergence of the well-funded and trained terrorist military force named Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This warring jihadist group claims to represent Syria, its base, and Iraq which it is invading. ISIS proclaims itself entitled to instill strict Islamic law in Muslim-populated regions starting in the Levant that covers Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, southern Turkey and the island of Cyprus.

ISIS even alienated Islamic terrorist network al-Qaeda, which cut ties over ISIS' alleged rigid Islamic interpretations, punitive brutality and wide-scale ethnic cleansing.

ISIS' leaders are of the Sunni Islamic sect. Sunnis had power in Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein. But after his ouster, they felt disenfranchised by the US-aided Iraqi coalition government that the rival Shiite sect ended up dominating after the US withdrew forces. Thus, many analysts feel the US when in Iraq should have pressured for more balance of interests to try to prevent the current schism.

In past months, ISIS went after areas in northern Iraq with Sunni majorities, but also attacked Kurdish strongholds then drove south toward the capital of Baghdad where it has met stiffer resistance.

House Committee on Foreign Affairs member Meadows has warned the Obama Administration was too blindly supporting Islamic rebels such as those against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, without adequately gauging rebels' ultimate allegiance and agenda. He met last fall with the ambassador of the Syrian opposition, and was skeptical of claims merely 10 to 20 percent of its followers were Muslim hard-liners.

He cautioned that with a "power void" in a Middle East nation, an even worse faction could emerge than was there. Now ISIS has surfaced out of Syria, and is on the warpath in neighboring Iraq and possibly beyond.

Ideally in such nations as Syria, "we should help create a more humanitarian government there," Meadows suggested months ago. Now he is among those noting that first ISIS must be tamed, for a chance at Middle East stability.

Of course, that region's instability has residual effects on global oil supplies and prices. Rep. Meadows has proposed the United States tap into oil and gas reserves to restrain energy prices and promote energy independence. He supports tapping into off-shore oil and gas supplies, while opponent Hill opposes nat-gas "fracking."

Meadows introduced the Federal Records Accountability Act of 2014 (HR 5170) in July. This would tighten record keeping for some communications to ensure information does not get lost. The bill also bans federal employees from using instant messaging for work purposes, and makes it easier to fire a person such as for destroying, falsifying or concealing records.

His committee assignments include Oversight and Government Reform, and Transportation and Infrastructure. He is on such subcommittees as on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs; also (Foreign Affairs) on the Middle East and North Africa.

Meadows espouses a conservative vision of curbing spending and thus taxing, and more limited government. He signed the Tea Party's Contract from America list of 10 policy priorities.

Meadows wants federal spending to be capped at the inflation rate, to help ease the deficit and national debt. In signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, he opposes a rise in any tax including income. He supports repealing the federal estate tax and also capital gains tax for investors.

He said he wants lower corporate tax rates, to spark job expansions and discourage shifting of jobs overseas. Tom Hill theorizes that some corporations have relocated their base out of country more to avoid paying US income taxes, and still would if the rate dropped.

Meadow made unusual impact as a freshman legislator when on Aug. 21, 2013 he wrote an open letter to the GOP's top two House leaders, calling to de-fund "implementation and enforcement of Obamacare." Seventy-nine GOP House colleagues signed the letter.

This was seen as a step toward the government shutdown showdown. The GOP initiated it to try to force curbing of spending and Obamacare mandates. Such effort fizzled in the Senate, but could reemerge should the GOP gain control of the Senate as projected to go with its grip on the House.

Meadows stated in congressional public comments he worked on a compromise to the budget impasse, to fund such government services as the National Institute of Health and national parks and other attractions. The Democratic Senate majority rejected such partial funding, to keep shutdown stakes steep which analysts say helped the "Dems" win media/public opinion.

Meadows and select GOP candidates spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2012. He got more national exposure as a guest on Fox News this summer. He called for a curb of Pres. Obama's executive orders that bypass Congress, and a probe of alleged IRS targeted auditing of noted Republicans. He has also spoken out against liberal judges legislating via their legal interpretations, and regulations that "choke" business.

Meadows has described himself as a "conservative Christian businessman" who fights to protect tax dollars, traditional marriage, fetal right to life, and gun ownership and other constitutional rights.

For more on US Rep. Mark Meadows, check meadowsforcongress.com.



I could think of a 1,000 things that I would rather be doing in October and November than formulating the organizations budget for next year. That said, I cant think of a single process that provides more clarity or direction for achieving success than crafting the companys budget.

Budgeting forces you to examine the business, look at the direction youre heading and chart the course for the year ahead. For this reason, accountants, operations managers, controllers and facility managers will cram into conference rooms during the next several months as part of the annual ritual to develop next years budgets.

Why We Budget

There are a number of reasons we budget:

1. Set the course and identify priorities for the year ahead.

2. Provide structure and guidance for all of the companys major financial decisions.

3. Ensure you have adequate dollars to provide maintenance and repair of your recycling equipment, building and rolling stock.

4. Predict cash flows to identify potential shortfalls when you may need to make adjustments, obtain additional financing or adjust payment schedules.

5. Help control spending by establishing boundaries to eliminate unallocated expenses.

6. Identify capital expense projects to ensure that you have adequate financing and resources to fulfill your big projects and purchases.

How To Budget

Budgeting is team event in which managers, supervisors, controllers and accountants work collaboratively to develop a realistic budget that will serve as the road map to financial success over the next year.

Additionally, a capital budget will help guide the organization for the next several years in terms of big expenditures for machinery, construction projects and facility upgrades. Therefore, getting your budget right is key.

You will need some basic information to formulate your budget. For starters you will need:

Historical data on income and expense items. At recycling centers, your income will come from gate receipts and the sale of commodities. A good starting point is to look back at last years volume and sales numbers.

Educated and realistic predictions. Your team will need to make predictions about volumes and commodity pricing for the year ahead. You may want to talk with your contacts at mills to help forecast the sale of commodities.

With historical data and predictions, you can now start to identify the companys revenue for each month of the coming year.

Identifying expenses can work the same way. Take a look at your expenses during the last 12 months and make some predictions for the year ahead. Essentially, you will have two types of expenses fixed and variable.

Fixed expenses are fairly consistent from one month to the next, regardless of how much material you are processing at your recycling center. Examples include rent or mortgage, property taxes, utilities, insurance costs, etchellip;

Variable expenses fluctuate from month to month based on how much material you are processing. This could include the cost of rebates for material, fuel, labor, etchellip;

In addition to fixed and variable costs, you also need to plan for large, one-time capital expenditures (also known as Capex). Examples of Capex include plant and equipment upgrades, new machinery and rolling stock. A separate Capex budget will help detail big ticket expenses and identify how items will be financed (cash, loan, lease, etchellip;).

With the data from last year, it now time for the team to start talking about the year ahead and developing the new budget. At this point, you should think about the seasonality of volume. For example, on Long Island, there is greater volume of recyclables throughout the summer months and around the holidays. In Florida, winter months have higher volumes as tourism and snowbirds flock to warmer climates.

You can now identify the revenue you expect to receive and the expenses you forecast for each month. Using this information, you should be able to control spending while increasing revenue and maximizing profitability.

Conclusions

Every recycling operation needs a budget to help guide the organization and properly manage financial resources. The budgeting process should be an annual exercise that includes a review of the prior year and a forecast for future revenue and expenses. The team that developed the budget should review the budget several times throughout the year to compare actual results with the budgeted expectations.

Remember, the budget process takes time and thoughtful consideration. Investing the time in the fourth quarter will help ensure your success in the year ahead.

Will Flower is president of Green Stream Recycling in Long Island, NY The company is focused on advancing recycling throughout Long Island.



Hopewell Township is working on providing two new informational tools designed to get the public more involved in municipal budgeting and other issues.

One of these tools, a budget allocator, would ask for public feedback about budget-related items, said Mayor Vanessa Sandom.

The other is a social media tool to keep folks informed about important issues, like the pipeline.

To the best of my knowledge, the budget tool is the first in the state and pretty much unique in the US The social media tool is akin to Facebook so not as unique, though I dont know how many towns use some type of interactive social media tool.

I had to go to Australia to find them. They werent available in the US. It so happened that the Australian company (Shape Your City) wanted to launch in the US, so theyre providing these tools to us free of charge.

Among residents of 150 metro areas, San Diegans are 28th best in making and sticking to their budgets, according to WalletHub, an organization that gathers and interprets statistics on cities and states.

In ranking the metro areas, WalletHub looked at a number of variables: average Experian Vantage credit score; non-mortgage debt as a percentage of median income; personal bankruptcy rate; foreclosure rate; housing expenses as a percentage of median home prices; percentage of population spending more than their income; and percentage of the population paying only the minimum on credit cards. For a metro area with a very high cost of living and moderately high incomes, San Diego is doing well keeping the books in order.

Midwesterners seem to be the best budgeters. The top four budgeters are Sioux Falls, South Dakota; the area of Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota; Rochester, Minnesota, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. (Maybe the cold weather keeps people at home working on ledgers.)

Four of the five worst are in the South: Columbus, Georgia; Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi; Albany, Georgia, and Jackson, Mississippi. The other of the worst five, the one third from the bottom, is the Las Vegas Valley. Is anybody surprised?

The highest credit scores are all in the Midwest, and the four highest foreclosure rates are all in the South.