It is time to say goodbye….
It seems that landing a government job, now a days, becomes a lifelong entitlement. Once upon a time, you sacrificed pay for the benefits. Now, it seems that not only do you have a higher paying job, but the benefits to go with it. The “lifelong” aspect is one that I have recently come to understand.
I found myself in Gainesville on the square on Monday the 25th. It was like a ghost town. I was wondering if the county had made the move out to the Liberty Mutual building when I realized that it was a furlough day. It got me to thinking about the budget and the fact that furloughs “save” the county $2.25m per year, but the benefits are still being paid. If we look at the number of days worked 52 weeks * 5 days – 9 paid holidays = ~ 251 work days. So, the furloughs don’t quite save 5%.
So, I wondered to myself: self, I wonder how much meat is being left on the table? I mean, how much are we paying in benefits for the 5% overhead that we are carrying? What would 5% of healthcare would be? How about 5% or retirement? We can figure this out by the budget. The budget shows that healthcare will be increasing by 9% or $875,000. That means that we will be paying about $10.6m in healthcare next year. A 5% savings on healthcare would be about $525k per year. When you add retirement ($2.4m total), $120k, it means the furloughs actually cost the county tax payer $645k.
You see, we know that we have too many people on payroll, but no one has the guts to downsize. That means that the employees suffer because they all take a 5% pay cut and the tax payer suffers because we have to suck up the $645k in benefits.
It is time for some rightsizing. This is where it gets to be muddy politically. The only way to do this is to bring in a consultant. I say that because you know that staff is not going to volunteer the cuts and the ethics ordinance (220.127.116.11) says; “County commissioners, as policy-makers, shall refrain from unduly interfering in the daily administrative affairs of department supervisors. Commissioners shall not give directions or make suggestions to the department supervisors or other employees on an individual basis. All directions should be made as a board to the county administrator, who, in turn, shall communicate with the department supervisor.” Consultants, however, have a stigma as well. When I hear the word “consultants”, I think of Office Space, TPS reports, and red swingline staplers.
The commissioners need to get off their butts and start handing out pink slips. We just can’t keep spending for no reason. It is time to get our county sized correctly.
Hugh Hall County Akston