Some issues on the county budget:
Regarding the Red Rabbit, if we are supporting this program 60-40, is the county getting 60 percent of the return? Since the city is unwilling to cooperate, I suggest we make sure we aren't paying more than our fair share.
Regarding the waiver of taxes and interest on past-due tax bills, absolutely not. I had to pay my taxes on time and so should others. Since next year is projected to be as difficult, then maybe I'll wait eight extra months to pay mine with no repercussions. Don't set this precedent.
As for county employees' retirement contributions, leave that out of the budget for next year. Many people in the public sector do not have jobs, let alone matched employer contributions to their retirement. Employees still can contribute to their retirement.
For employees to take a pay cut equal to one month's salary is difficult to address. Reduce the size of government; I think we have a lot of staff and services that are quality-of-life and I don't believe those are functions of government. I think that you could privatize the bulk of the parks and recreation department.
Some have tried to lay the blame for this mess solely on Chairman Tom Oliver. Remember, he only has one vote in five. Others had to go along for items to be passed to increase the budget. Be fair and consider this: Where were we Hall Countians at last year's budget meeting? I wasn't there. How many people showed up for meetings on the reservoirs? Not me; truthfully, it is a complicated matter and I don't know enough to make a good decision.
The whole story lies with all of us. We taxpayers must be diligent and pay attention, attend meetings, write emails and let our thoughts be known. This should become a way of life.
I can say that we could have been working on the budget for the better part of 2011 if we hadn't been thrown off course by Craig Lutz, Scott Gibbs and Ashley Bell. Last week, they laid off 32 people a week early to save $24,000. How the three of them can sleep at night is beyond me when they gave away the first $10,000 with no hourly rate to interim attorneys. And $18,500 was approved to look for a new administrator. We had a perfectly good employee in that position until he was terminated by them.
We all know the other frivolous money expenditures voted for by these three. Just remember that when re-election or recall time rolls around.
It's not an us (taxpayers) and them (commissioners) game. If we all participate, this county will be what we want it to be. I believe there are ways to come to an agreement or compromise that both sides can be happy with.
I'm not sure that we can get out of this situation without some sort of tax increase, like it or not. But I believe we are at a turning point. We can compromise this year and we may not like it, but we can focus on making real changes in the next year.