Poof! Let there be raises!

And Commissioner Williamson said, let there be raises, and so it was.

We are in full support of giving deputies much needed raises. How can we employ the best when we don’t offer much in the way of pay? When our surrounding counties offer more than we do? When deputies who are loyal to our county and our citizens don’t receive the raises they deserve?

But we are stumped on a number of questions here. First, the sheriff’s office returned nearly a half million dollars to the county from last year’s budget. A half million dollars – not far off from the year before that. If you are consistently giving back that kind of money and yet feel you are doing without, something is wrong with your budget process.

And speaking of budget process, why wasn’t this issue discussed and decided during the budget season we just completed? This is the place where all new expenses, benefits, raises and revenues are built in so there is a financial guide that everyone has to live by. I realize that Sheriff Johnson wasn’t officially the sheriff during that time, but I feel sure that Wendell Hall wanted to give his deputies raises as well. So why now only a month into the 2017 budget?

The second issue we have is, where is the money coming from? Oh wait, it will come from the half-penny sales tax. No that can’t be right. We are not allowed to use that money to pay for salary and wages. Oh, hold on a minute, let me move this money over here and put it in this pile, put that over there, put the half-penny revenue into the capital expenditures pile, take what is in there and move it to the sheriff’s budget. AND we will give him back half of what he gave us back for last year. Done. Poof! There are the raises.

Well, that is some real sleight of hand work there. Or creative accounting as most refer to it. So, when the budget for 2017 was made, there was an amount in place for capital project and infrastructure. And then on top of that the half-penny tax was passed so we would have more money for more projects. Yet, we just took out the money we had budgeted for that, with the exception of the half-penny revenue, and paid for deputy raises. And we also promised another $1.6 million next year.  (Are you tired – we are.)

The Tourist Development Office wants a new vehicle, an airstream, a “social liaison” and more staff to run their office. They also want a Tourist Impact Study done for the low, low price of $50,000. Will the commissioners pull the same shell game for them?

Where is the REAL planning? Why do we have to be reactive instead of proactive. There is plenty to be proactive about.

Bottom line – we are happy that the deputies received their pay raise. It is the process that concerns us.

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