Lane County Continues to Oppose Voters

Parks are already being closed to punish citizens for asserting their rights!

The Lane County Board of Commissioners has again thwarted the will of the people; voting to place their newly enacted income tax ordinance on the May ballot. Although it may seem they are bowing to public pressure by taking this step, they are in fact pre-empting the normal process. By acting now, they force the election to occur in May rather than in the fall. This is a last-ditch effort to prevent reductions in county staffing — the thing they fear most because they will lose their ability to intimidate the citizens once workforce reductions occur without causing the chaos they keep predicting.

Forcing the measure onto the May ballot gives them other advantages, too. By accelerating the process, they hope to prevent those opposed from having the time to effectively organize. By placing the measure on the ballot after the deadline for creating a voters’ pamphlet had expired, they are attempting to silence debate. Their hope is this will leave the county in control of the media through their ability to manufacture news and dispense public monies.

The only long-term solution to the county’s financial problems is to control costs. If the outrageous PERS debacle cannot be ended, the only options are to minimize public employment and eliminate all but essential services. The Board’s inclination is to eliminate essential services, causing the most damage to the infrastructure and quality of life while protecting as many employees and their obscene fringe benefits as long as possible.

For more information on the ballot measure and other local government issues,
Please Visit My Web Site at jfox.eldonfox.com

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Posted by at 06:08 | Posted in Measure 37 | 12 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    They voted for these morons. Dump them out of office. The only solution.
    Fools all!

  • eagle eye

    The headline and the article make no sense. He wants to protect essential services, but complaining about parks being closed? (The money is going to be used, duh, for public safety.)

    Please, Jim Fox, submit a county budget here.

    And please, if you know how Lane County can do anything about PERS, let the rest of the people in Lane County and Oregon in on the secret.

    • David G

      There IS something that local public entities can do about PERS now: they can drop out of it. Enrollment is not mandatory for government agencies and there are many (mostly smaller) Oregon government entities which are not enrolled in PERS.

      Dropping out obviously wouldn’t affect currently enrolled employees, but it would affect all new hires and over time would eventually allow local entities to regain control over pension expenses. They would simply create 401k programs like private employers and would control the amount of the employer contribution – unlike now where it is dictated by the PERS board.

      • eagle eye

        Do you have a link for that?

        That would be a way of saving money over time.

        It is the case that some employees of some state agencies have a retirement option that is a defined contribution plan at independent private funds. The payments are tied pretty closely to PERS, however.

        • David G

          I checked with the PERS website. It doesn’t show the list of non-participants or even the participants. A couple of years ago I got the then current list of non-participants from the PERS public information office. You can give them a try for the current list: 888-320-7377.

      • Captain Anon

        David,

        PERS won’t change period. Lawmakers altered PERS in 2003 and completely changed the system so that after that year, all retirement goes to a personal retirement account much like a 401K in the private sector. The oregon courts have determined that PERS money already in the system and owed to retirees cannot be touched or altered anymore than they already are. so, all new hires are enrolled in a system like you are advocating. Dropping out of PERS like you suggest would not at all change the obligation the different governments owe their employees. One thing about having a large retirement pooling of money like the old PERS and the new individual retirement accounts is the benefit of increased returns and lower operating costs. a small government entity would undoubtedly pay more in servicing and administration of a retirement fund than if they pooled thier money. Just like health care administration. there is an economy of scale. I’m not sure why Counties like Tillamook never joined PERS. But it’s pretty much moot now.

        I also don’t buy into the conspiracy theories that those who work at Lane County are purposely trying to screw over the public. the way revenue streams are mandated and what they fund, they don’t always have a choice in what they can and can’t cut. certain monies are required by law (state and federal) to be spent on certain uses and functions. federal matching funds can’t be spent on anything other than what they were intended to pay for. so for example, federal matching funds for health care programs can’t be shifted over to cover park maintenance. so while a certain program may not be essential, the money funding it is mandated for that program and can’t be shifted to a more necessary expenditure. this is the reality of budgets and funding sources. general budgets, which pay for much of public safety depending on what county or city you live in, is most at risk because it is the ‘general’ fund where money typically not mandated to pay for certain services go. so, if that’s where money to pay for jails comes from, jails may be one of the services cut down.

        and as for the title of the article… i would see parks as one of the least necessary services in the government.

        • David G

          You sound a little unnecessarily pessimistic to me. But I don’t think it matters whether or not PERS will ever change. It would be to the benefit of every local government entity to get out. As long as the PERS board has any control over contributions, it has too much control. Many small and large employers (not to mention individuals) have their own 401k plans; it surely is feasible for any local government entity to do the same for its employees.

          I agree with you and don’t believe in conspiracies. Ineptitude and poor judgment sufficiently explain how government operates when it tries to cuts services. When big companies like Ford and GM get into a funding crisis, they not only cut positions, they also freeze employee salaries and cut benefits. You will notice that not a single local government entity in the state is talking about freezing employee salaries or cutting benefits in response to the end of the timber payments. We all know which political interests groups are being stroked by that.

          • Captain_Anon

            in the 1980’s, the government did freeze salaries, and in exchange, governments said they’d pay the public employees’ PERS portion. And i believe it was in the early 2000’s that the state froze everyone’s salary. so, it does happen time to time. In general, the public never seems to recall that the government HAS frozen salaries. and they don’t recall how much. a frozen salary is in effect a cut in pay. Not only in real dollars, but also on the back end in retirement. just a thought.

    • Hi,

      I have two articles posted on my web site which address the issues of county finances and cost controls:

      “The truth about county parks finances” and
      “A plan to re-vitalize county government”

      My goal has been to stimulate a reasoned discussion seeking practical solutions by advancing specific proposals. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I would welcome specific proposals from others.

  • nme

    Passing the measure after there was no chance of a voter statement is undemocratic. It is just a constant barrage of slighting the poeple. No bones about it.

  • John Fairplay

    Actually, it is a time-honored “trick” of government entities to reduce non-essential services (such as parks or libraries as we are seeing in Jackson County) that have the most visibility or public impact anytime there is a revenue “shortfall.” School districts, for instance, will cut bus service first. Why? – bus service can hardly be described as essential to education and is certainly not a great money saver in the grand scheme of district budgets. The reason is that cutting bus services inconveniences the greatest number of people. If instead, the district lowered salary and benefit payments, it would only inconvenience teachers union members, classified employee union members and administrators. This is a relatively small number of people, a group that is bitching all the time anyway, and typically has their children in private schools and so is likely to be ignored.

    Lane County is acting as virtually every government entity does – in its own best interests instead of in the best interests of the folks who pay the bills.

  • Marvin McConoughey

    Like many citizens, I’ve had occasion to cut back on personal spending at various times. Outside advice, can be very helpful. But county commissioners and other county personnel should be personally aware of many cost saving/ cost avoidance approaches that are not visible to the general public.

    County officials may be lacking in personal incentives to control costs. Few administrators win fame and fortune by cutting costs, reducing marginally needed services, firing the least productive employees, etc. Yet, such cost actions are now a part of recovery efforts in American car companies. They may be too late, but that is a possible price of past leadership timidity and delay. Let it not happen to Lane County!

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