The Nacilbupera Guzzle

Whoever examines with attention the history of the dearths and famines … will find, I believe, that a dearth never has arisen from any combination among the inland dealers in corn, nor from any other cause but a real scarcity, occasioned sometimes perhaps, and in some particular places, by the waste of war, but in by far the greatest number of cases by the fault of the seasons; and that a famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconveniences of a dearth. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations IV.5.44)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Utah Co. Commissioners Poised To Vote Pay Raises in Deficit Budget

With the 2011 Utah County budget still $2M short of being able to be in balance (see County Commission Notes 11/16/2010 page 1), County Commissioners led by Commissioner Ellertson are on track to vote a 2.3% pay increase for 700 county employees, or an approximate $6M expenditure when weighed over the next 10 years.

According to an article Wednesday by Daily Herald political reporter Joe Pyrah, the County plans to tap into reserves "to keep from raising taxes" as our county's debt load continues to pile up.

The Daily Herald itself courageously spoke up against the proposed pay hike in this morning's editorial:

Proposing a raise for government employees right now painfully highlights the element of coercion in taxes. Revenue for private business comes from customers who take money out of their pockets in a free market and spend it as they choose. By contrast, government just takes your money whether you agree to give or not. You have no choice.

Raising the pay of government employees on the backs of taxpayers who are getting no raises thus borders on the unethical. We don't recall any of the candidates for county commission in the recent campaign loudly proclaiming that, if elected, their priority would be to raise the compensation of all government employees. That one probably wouldn't fly back then. So why does anybody think it flies now? It shouldn't.
The Herald is right on the mark here with the "unethical" label, but even a step short of where I would take it: if you pass an irresponsible budget including pay increases when we can ill afford them, this is a de facto tax increase and unsound Republican government.

A Herald reader/commentor self-identified as "grumpydad" brought to light the conflict of interest issue I have personally sensed as a county delegate myself regarding county delegates who are also county employees: this group overwhelmingly votes in favor of Commissioners who raise county employee pay.
Are these people crazy!!!!??? What planet are they living in to give raises on the backs of the taxpayers? They keep collecting more and more of our money, and
stack the party caucuses with County employees (mostly deputies) to guarantee that they can keep getting elected and the deputies get all their special favors and raises from the Commissioners.
This is a total racket. [emphasis mine; ed. sp.]
Perhaps then it is more than coincidence then that Commissioner Ellertson--the next Commissioner up for reelection--is the outspoken supporter of such raises. What the Commissioners should be discussing instead is whether pay cuts are necessary for us to meet our financial obligations.

With a final vote on the budget scheduled for Dec 14th, two days hence on Pearl Harbor Day Tuesday, December 7th, at 9am at the County Administration Building will mark the final opportunity for citizens (who aren't working at that time slot) to voice their opposition to these Utah County tax-increasing pay raises in the deficit budget.


Joel Wright said...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Joel Wright
Date: Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 10:48 PM
Subject: Opposition to salary increase for Utah County (why are you doing this?)
To: Larry Ellertson , Gary Anderson , Steve White


I am writing to express my opposition to any salary increase for Utah County's employees in next year's budget.

Three reasons:

1. Attrition Rate: It is my understanding that the attrition rate is next to zero. No one is voluntarily leaving for other jobs right now. In other words, it is not necessary to raise salaries to retain employees.

2. Inflation Rate: The inflation rate has been next to zero the last two years, and we may have even experience deflation.

3. Revenues: Revenues for Utah County have not increased. Furthermore, Utah County has spent more than it has received, and lived beyond its means, for over 4 years now, and is now apparently planning on doing it again for a fifth year. Utah County has substantially decreased the cash reserves that Utah County had four years ago. This leaves no margin for error going forward, since you are required by law to balance your budget. We could be "forced" into a situation where you have to dramatically increase taxes because there are no cash reserves. However, that would not be true, because you would have made the decision now to further deplete Utah County's cash reserves.

So, why are you doing this? Why is an increase in the salaries of Utah County employees in the best interests of Utah County, or the taxpayers of Utah County?

Finally, note that Commissioner Anderson promised to not raise his salary at the April 2010 Utah County Republican Convention. Does this increase include a raise for the County Commissioners?

Please let me know at your earliest convenience. You are also welcome to call me at 801-368-5385.

Joel Wright

nacilbupera said...

I was very impressed with your three reasons and learned some things as well.

I had hoped to arrange things to get off for the Commissioner's meeting, but had to work.