Archived Story

Counting chickens before they hatch

Published 10:00pm Tuesday, June 10, 2014

To the editor:
This is the best way that I can come up with to describe the current proposed budget for the next fiscal year.  Let me explain:  My fellow commissioners have implemented fiscal policies over the last 18 months that have resulted in expanding local government.
Tonight I do not wish to debate the wisdom of this growth policy, rather I hope that my fellow commissioners will at least be willing to respect my minority position.
In order to balance the proposed budget, it will require that $315,000 be pulled from the “Rainy Day” fund balance plus taking a very aggressive approach toward projected revenues.  I believe that it is very risky fiscal policy.  This is the same approach that was taken last year when $415,000 was pulled from the fund balance in order to balance the current year’s budget. Why do we have to keep jumping off the same fiscal cliff?
After careful study, I have come up with a viable means in order to avoid this “counting your chickens before they hatch” fiscal policy.  I propose that we pay off a $2.7 million loan from the fund balance.  This would remove $600,000 from budget expenditures.  Then there would no longer be a need to pull $315,000 from the “Rainy Day” fund simply to balance the proposed budget and it would make it possible to take a more conservative approach toward anticipated revenues.
We would then be able to add to the Lake Adger dam repair fund, instead of cutting funding in half for the second year in a row, from $200,000 two years ago, to $100,000 in the current budget and now a proposed cut to $50,000.
I believe that  it is important that we at least increase this funding back to $100,000.
Also we could add $60,000 to employee salary increases.  Instead of employees receiving a one percent increase Jan. 1, this additional funding would provide for a 2.5 percent raise.
This would hopefully help with employee morale, which was already suffering greatly last year and took another severe blow after the $178,590 payout to former county manager Ryan Whitson.
If my fellow commissioners would be willing to take my proposed approach, Polk County would still have a very healthy fund balance (approximately 20 percent, which is 2.5 times larger than the minimum recommended.
And the public would thank us for being fiscally responsible.

– Ray Gasperson,
Green Creek

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