By Steve Garrison
The current Charter blocks any effective long term fiscal reorganization of county government. Real problems need to be fixed and the Charter Amendments will help.
The Council says that they county will be in deficit by $400K this next year, in spite of the levy lid lifts and the recent tax increase. For the following year, they are projecting deficits in the order of $1.1 million. Our total county budget has increased from $30 to $50 million in six years. So far, we have been told that there must be more FTE cuts and more taxes. Where is the leadership for serious fiscal change if an independent county manager is responsible for all operations and administration while the Council itself is limited to governance and policy issues?
Where do the responsibilities of county staff now lie? Is it with the county or state agencies? Staff will take their direction from state agencies if the Council will not lead. The wild track of the CAO has taken with its enormous cost is a good example of this. The current Charter encourages out of control regulation looking for a problem to solve.
Public works appears to be now free to build and expand roads at their discretion as soon as they can shoehorn in 80% – 90% federal or grant funding, regardless of the wishes of the constituencies. The administrator, with capital account money, is allowed to make purchases such as the public employee ferry boat, even if the boat spends most of its life tied to the pier.
The Charter Review Commission’s platform is simple. Stop, downsize, and get your fiscal house in order. Put all voters in charge of all Council positions and the Council in charge of the administration. Vote for the Charter revisions.
Steve Garrison served on the Charter Review Commission’s Finance Sub-committee