Open Letter To Clark County Commissioners

by lewwaters

I was able appear before the Clark County Commissioners, Wednesday Dec 8 to state the following in person. If you have anything additional to say to our County Commission, feel free to contact them at boardcom@clark.wa.gov

Good morning commissioners

My name is Lew Waters and I am one of those who would be paying the increased property tax, should you pass it. While a 1% increase might seem minimal, once added to other proposed increases we homeowners will face, it will add up to more than we should have to bear.

As I understand it, a major area of expense for Clark County is in health care insurance premiums. That is an expense we all bear, but apparently some of us must bear more than others. I say that because I understand the county pays 100% of the premiums for public union employees.

I was employed in the private sector locally with the same employer for 20 years until pushed into early retirement when the auto dealer I was a technician at lost their franchise as part of the auto manufacturers’ bailout program. With Clark County holding the highest unemployment rate in the state, I was left with little choice but to opt for early retirement, placing me on a fixed income not all that high and not slated for any cost of living increases any time soon.

When I was employed I paid $481.19 a month for health insurance premiums for my wife and I, with $1,000 deductible and co-pays. That was about 70% of the cost of the premiums.

I believe if you checked around you would find most private sector employers have similar costs to their employees.

I cannot see any reason why county employees cannot begin paying a portion of their health care insurance premiums as well. To simply raise taxes to ensure they do not have to pay premiums places an unfair burden on an already struggling populace.

I read this morning where the Kelso Police Officers Union rejected a 5% pay cut that would have saved the jobs of 3 Officers and a Police Clerk. I have to ask which better serves the community during this economic downturn, less Police Officers on patrol or the same number at a slightly lower wage like many private sector workers today who still have jobs?

It must be remembered that when costs go up, it is passed along. In the case of the private sector it is passed along in the form of higher consumer prices. In the public sector it is passed along in the form of higher taxes.

I recall in 1979, when Lee Iacocca was seeking concessions from the UAW in the first Chrysler bail-out was asked by a union representative just what would UAW members be guaranteed should they make those concessions, Mr. Iacocca simply answered, Their jobs!

Thank you.

UPDATE: It needs to be noted also that the property tax levy passed unanimously, Wednesday, Dec 8. No concessions from the public unions have been announced. We are told the new budget, “calls for employees to pay an additional $5.8 million for health care in the next biennium,” but we are also told, “How this is accomplished will depend on the outcome of ongoing contract negotiations,” according to County Administrator Bill Barron.

Will county negotiators stand tough after we see the commissioners give in so quickly after hearing several taxpayers telling them how we are struggling and our voices being ignored?

It must also be noted that in the city of Kelso, the Police Union rejected a meager 5% wage cut that would have enabled the city to retain 3 Police Officers and 1 Police Clerk. Is it serving the community to have less Police on Patrol?

From the December 11, 2009 Columbian: County to cut services, hike tax 1%,

“We are going to govern differently, or we will not survive,” said Commissioner Marc Boldt, calling on local governments to share more services.

Commissioners voted 2-1 to raise the county’s general-fund levy by 1 percent. The levy pays for discretionary services such as cops, courts and computers.

It’ll bring in $966,000 from the county’s property owners, though property owners whose assessments are dropping faster than average will still see their taxes drop.

Boldt, a Republican, and Steve Stuart, a Democrat, backed the hike.

“It’s worth it,” Boldt said. “It’s necessary.”

Opposing the hike was Commissioner Tom Mielke, also a Republican, who on Tuesday said he’d support the tax hike but changed his mind.

It was clear by Tuesday that Boldt and Stuart would support the tax hike with or without Mielke’s vote.

I made a pledge, and by God I held to it,” Mielke said, referring to a campaign promise not to raise taxes.

2 Responses to “Open Letter To Clark County Commissioners”

  1. Will Marc and Easy Money allow reality to impact their decision?

    I ain’t holding my breath.

    Like

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