It looks like massive layoffs will begin in Lane County — and they’ll carry out their mission to hit public safety the hardest (but how many managers will get pink slips?).
“The impact … should be cause for alarm,” the department said in the budget report. “The sheriff’s office will no longer be able to perform its primary mission: to make Lane County a safer place to live by protecting lives and property.”
If the cuts are carried out, the proposed budget would give the county up to three years of financial stability while the board and the public work on a long-range solution, Spartz said.
Translation: three years to convince citizens to pass a tax increase so they can spend it on non public-safety items like:
October 2007 – A new “Assistant County Commissioner” position.
May 2007 – Giving $20,000/year pay raises to managers — as the Register-Guard notes “… if the county continues to spend more in wages and benefits than it collects in revenue, then it only digs itself deeper into the hole.” Why can’t Lane County Commissioners understand this basic principle? You don’t give raises ($20,000/year) in a budget crisis — and then whine about lack of money, all while laying off sheriff personnel.
And so on. We’ve documented the (lack of) fiscal responsibility for a long time — for complete coverage search for Lane County Budget crisis.
Of course, Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart weighs in with (surprise!) the need-more-money position:
Eugene (KMTR) – County commissioners are speaking out about the budget and the future of Lane County.
“It’s time that we make sure that what we put before the citizens is what they want. If they’re willing to pay more revenue, how do they want to pay it to Lane County to keep services going,” said Stewart.
Another measure probably wouldn’t be sent to voters for another two years.
If Faye Stewart says another money measure (read: tax hike) won’t be for another two years, we’re likely right to expect it by next fall — at the latest. But as usual, Commissioner Stewart can’t get out of increase-taxes mode — all the Commissioners can see is higher taxes, while they continue to spend in areas unrelated to public safety.
Here’s just a few ideas to help them with the budget (which we’ve said before, and are obvious ideas to everyone but County leadership who layoff some employees, while giving massive raises to others, and continue hiring new employees in non public safety areas — including additional management):
- Most important, learn to prioritize spending. Public safety/law enforcement and road services are primary functions of County government. Fund those fully for public safety, and with whatever is left over fund any remaining programs. Hint: hiring new managers isn’t a priority.
- Implement an immediate hiring freeze (which should have been done years ago). No need for layoffs of hard-working people supporting their family, just let natural attrition reduce the workforce. The longer they wait to implement such an obvious solution, the more pain they’ll cause as they force additional layoffs to pay for their continued hiring.
- Immediate freeze in travel, conferences, new equipment, etc.
- Don’t give out large raises ($20,000/year) to managers and others while announcing layoffs for other employees.
- Use part of the huge reserve fund to stabilize the budget while reductions are made — thus avoiding layoffs of hard-working employees.
That may not completely fix the deep mess Lane County Commissioners have created, but if they started acting in a fiscally responsible way (instead of giving raises to some while laying off public safety employees), maybe they might have some credibility (but maybe not). It likely will take a new group of Commissioners to lead the County out of this mess as the current group is stuck in nothing-but-new-taxes mode.
Coming soon — another tax increase proposal. If not in November this year, look for a special election before next fall.