Letters to the Editor
What happened on September 11 changed our lives forever.
What these perpetrators did was sad and shocking.
Innocent people dying or killed in these attacks brought our nation to a standstill. Now, we must go on and rebuild our lives with help from our Lord. This country will prevail.
The towers have crumbled and fallen, but the towers within us will be stronger than ever.
May the Lord watch over us and God bless the U.S. A.
As a retired Navajo County Supervisor, I have the time to follow the antics of government, both good and bad. Lately what I see, hear and read is mostly disheartening. It seems the political games of "yea for me" and "do unto others before they do unto you" are alive and well.
As an example, the Navajo County Board of Supervisors voted and passed a Resolution adopting the County budget for fiscal year 2001- 2002. Final Score: Politicians 5 - Employees 2 ( or 1, depending on who you listen to) - Historical Societies 0 - Senior Citizen Centers 0 - Small Libraries 0.
When asked what their priorities were for the new budget, all five supervisors stated publicly, "Raises for county employees." After much deliberation, they then stated the County was so short of funds for the new year that they would have to scrap the new performance-based system of giving higher raises to the ones who busted their humps to earn them.
Instead, they gave a two percent raise to those that earned a raise and those that did not. They then added the addendum that the two percent raise would not start until January of 2002, (which means that the employees really only get a one percent raise for fiscal year 2001-2002.)
What the Supervisors forgot to mention in the budget discussions was the fact that they, themselves, had already received a five percent raise, thanks to a very generous State Legislature who sets county officials salaries, but does not fund them. I suppose the Supervisors explanation would be that they had no control over the Legislature giving the raise and they just had to accept it. Have you ever seen the Legislature give anything without being lobbied for it?
These raises amount to almost $2,500 a year for each supervisor. Where does that money come from?
Well, some of it certainly comes from general fund cutbacks and employee raises.
One Supervisor stated at a Personnel meeting that county employees were going to have to learn to do more with less, again forgetting the raise he and his fellow elected officials just received.
Another elected official, after serving 19 years, 11 months and 15 days resigned just 15 days short of finishing his term to take advantage of a politically created "window of opportunity," thus allowing him to retire and receive a pension of almost $40,000 per year. He then waited the fifteen days to be sworn in to another office and receive an annual salary of $47,500 plus the 5% raise mentioned above giving him an annual salary of $49,875. On top of that, he received almost $40, 000 in retirement funds.
Fortunately, due to the redrawing of the Supervisors' District boundary lines, this situation will, without a doubt, be rectified at the next election.
In other cuts, all branches of the Navajo County Historical Society who, until recently, received $1,250 per year were cut to ZERO. All Senior Centers were cut from $1,500 per year to ZERO. Libraries in the unincorporated areas were cut from $2,000 per year from the general fund to ZERO (they will still receive their funding through the Library District, but if the district runs short of money, tax payers will be assessed through property taxes ).
People that feel government workers do not earn their keep have never been a detention officer or bladed roads in subzero weather at two o'clock in the morning.
When you visit the county complex and notice how beautiful the grounds are, remember that the flowers are there because a county employee cares and has pride in his or her job.
I do not begrudge elected officials their salaries. I do, however, believe that State Representatives should receive a considerably higher salary. The reason being, they wouldn't be so beholden to the high-powered lobbyist and special interest groups.
I also believe that when employees are asked to bite the bullet the elected officials should take a little taste of the pain, too.
The elected officials could have cut the amount of their raises like they did the employees or at least postponed the implementation of those raises like they did the meager raises to the employees.
Navajo County has made great strides in the past few years, mostly because of "beyond the call of duty employees."
It is my hope that they are compensated appropriately in the near future. Hopefully after venting my spleen concerning these matters, I can go back to full time retirement and stay there.
M.E. " Tommy Tee " Thompson
Navajo County Supervisor (Retired)