It appears the Federal government will give Lane County a one-year extension of the $40 million in Federal funding, thus allowing County Commissioners to ignore the situation for another year (and eliminating the need for the 1.1% Lane County income tax). But they wouldn’t ignore the future, would they? After all, they’re paid big salaries (over $70,000) to be prepared for budgetary situations, right? (History, of course, says they’ll ignore the situation yet again).
It’s time to start now to plan for the loss of federal funding, since it’s likely coming. Anything less from the Commissioners (Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, and Faye Stewart among others) would be incompetent. Since they’re all so concerned about the looming financial “doomsday”, certainly they’ll immediately begin work on transforming the county into an organization which easily handles the 8% loss of federal funding (or any other minor 8% budget variance).
Will they plan and perform their fiduciary duties? Ignore the situation yet again? Give out more raises during budgetary uncertainty?
We’ll go out on a limb and predict (based on history) Lane County Commissioners will ignore the situation for yet another year and begin their whine-fest in about 10 months, ending with the (surprise!) solution of raising taxes (for the 14th time – or is it 13? We’ve lost count), after (again) failing to handle a situation they all know will soon be upon them. But hey, at least they gave out raises during this critical time.
We hope County Commissioners don’t go down the path of incompetence, negligence, and breeching fiduciary duty — no one wins from incompetent pseudo-leadership. Now is the chance for Commissioners to seize the opportunity and avoid future problems. Will they perform the duties they’re paid to do, or put their head in the sand and later try to raise taxes?
For Commissioners Dwyer, Green, and Stewart, here’s your golden opportunity to demonstrate fiscal sanity and actally plan for the future (come to think of it, isn’t that what they’re paid to do?). We hope you break from the past and refuse to bury your heads in the sand, but will the actions of current Commissioners be any different from previous failures of County Commissioners? We hope so — citizens deserve better.
We hope their “solutions” are better than this:
Voters had just defeated an income tax for public safety. Concern was growing that the federal government wouldn’t renew $47 million in yearly timber aid payments. Fears of layoffs were simmering.
Yet the board of commissioners in mid-December approved a new, higher pay scale for 180 department directors, supervisors, managers and others who aren’t in county unions. The new scale starts July 1, with salaries well above current limits.
Consider department directors Rob Rockstroh, Tony Black, David Suchart and Ollie Snowden, who oversee health and human services, information services, management services and public works, respectively.
The current scale caps their pay at $98,000. But after July 1, directors can earn annual merit-based raises of 4 percent to 6 percent and eventually reach $118,000 in annual salaries, depending on their duties. The new scale lays out a similar pace of merit-based raises for other nonunion employees.
Remember that when the whining starts about budget problems.
We hoped County Commissioners would honor the citizens’ vote, but at least one (County Commissioner Faye Stewart) can’t break free from “no-solution-but-taxes” mode (while simultaneously giving out raises to directors). It appears Stewart’s plan is to do nothing for another year, and then ask for another tax increase, as the Register-Guard reports.
Stewart said he’s hopeful that people eventually will agree to pay more taxes … he might support a money measure as soon as the November 2008 election.
For that stellar leadership, willful disdain and contempt for the voters, and giving out raises to managers during a fiscal “doomsday” he’s paid over $70,000 per year. Commissioner Stewart may be the nicest guy in the world, but his policies are a fiscal disaster.
We still hold out hope Commissioner Stewart will have a sudden revelation of inspiration and decide to demonstrate fiscal responsibility, but so far his public comments are far from it. Is the plan to do nothing and try again to raise taxes, Mr. Stewart? Why not begin to solve the problem now, when you’ve got over a year? We’re sure citizens would appreciate answers.
Tune in next year as the County repeats the exact situation from this year as they fail to learn, plan or honor the citizens wishes. But at least it makes reporting easier — all anyone has to do is change the date on newspaper articles and re-run them; it appears no plans are forthcoming, and the Commissioners will spend the next year doing … nothing.
It’s deja vu — all over again.