By Scott Tibbs, August 28, 2008
I was elected as a precinct committeeman on May 6, so I will be voting tonight in the caucus to replace Andy Dodds on the ballot. Dodds finished fourth in the 2004 County Council race, but was the highest vote-getter among the three Republicans. The Herald-Times reported on November 3, 2004 that Dodds finished 1,041 votes behind Warren Henegar. Dodds got more votes than George W. Bush, 21,146 to 20,158. GOP chairman Gene Moncel told the Herald-Times last week that Dodds had "moved out of the county".
As a precinct committeeman, what kind of candidate do I want to vote for tonight? Obviously, I believe the GOP needs to select a fiscal conservative. The ideal candidate would place priority on the essential role of county government, such as law enforcement, the court system, the prosecutor's office, the Sheriff's department and the jail, and infrastructure. As the county looks at a budget crunch that has resulted in positions being eliminated, the GOP needs a candidate who is willing to make the hard choices.
The first thing that should be cut is the social services fund distributed by the county commissioners. While social service agencies are valuable to the county, the county council needs to fund county government before it gives money away to private charities. And while many taxpayers do get value from the county parks department, if the council needs to cut spending then one place to look is a (let's be honest) nonessential service.
The County Council should not eliminate longevity pay for employees, which the Herald-Times says is being considered. Longevity is a way of rewarding employees for many years of service. It is simply not fair to an employee who has served the county for 30 years to be suddenly denied the $2000 they expect after their anniversary. Here is the longevity pay scale, from the county government web site.
- 1 year of service: $200
- 2 years of service: $400
- 5 years of service: $600
- 10 years of service: $800
- 15 years of service: $1,200
- 20 years of service: $1,400
- 25 years of service: $1,700
- 30 years of service: $2,000
- 35 years of service: $2,300
If longevity pay is going to be eliminated, then a priority should be made to allow the most senior employees to keep the benefit. One possible solution is to eliminate it for new employees or rehires, which will completely eliminate it by attrition over time. Also, elected officials should give up their longevity pay. If existing employees are to lose their longevity, those with the least seniority should be the first to lose it.
I am not opposed to implementing user fees where appropriate. An honest, non-ideological study of county government services that can be partially funded by user fees is reasonable. However, the first inclination of the new GOP county council candidate should be to cut spending. Government at all levels takes a significant portion of our income and government needs to exhaust all options before looking at ways to increase revenue.