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The Tentacle


April 10, 2008

An Open Letter to the Commissioners

Joan Marie Aquilino

Dear Commissioners Jenkins, Gray, Gardner, Hagen & Thompson:

 

I want to thank you in advance of the adoption of next year’s budget. I do this primarily because I know this may well be the most difficult budget year in many of your careers. There will be very little thanks in this particular portion of your job.

 

No matter what is said, we do have a good quality of life in Frederick County, and I’m thankful for that.

 

Please know that I am in support of what you are faced with and cutting the budget to the bare minimum is okay with me. It’s exactly what I’m hoping you’ll do. We will survive it and be the better for it in the end. I'm sure many government employees would rather see a salary freeze than no salary at all.

 

It’s got to be a difficult pill to swallow when you have to look many of these people in the eye as they reveal very serious and sincere needs. The thing I have to keep reminding myself is that these people are doing their jobs and advocating for their departments, their causes. This I understand.

 

They must also understand that all departments are doing exactly the same thing and you – the county commissioners – are advocating for the tax paying public. You can’t keep squeezing us; the juice has run dry.

 

There are many worthy causes that come before you, but – if there is no money – it’s just what it is, no money. I beg of you not to be afraid. You must say NO. Most if not all taxpayers will "get it" in the end.

 

Just because others around us raise – and/or have higher – taxes, please don't use them as an example to follow. Let them follow your example of being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money. The state and feds have certainly put a strain on you; and most of us understand that you are left between a rock and a hard place.

 

If you continue to raise the monies allocated to the Board of Education, Fire & Rescue, Health Department and all the rest, you will be forced to repeat this tight budget scenario again next year, which may be an even more difficult than this year.

 

“Maintenance of Effort” is similar to cost of living in individual’s salaries. It always goes UP never down. At least put it on hold this year.

 

After years of doing things a certain way, we can become complacent and forget there can be directions not yet explored.

 

Departments need to rethink their work force and transfers should be used instead of new hires. Call it an involuntary transfer, but it’s better than being unemployed with no health insurance.

 

There may not be raises this year; once again, that’s better than layoffs and unemployment.

 

The Health Department mentioned how much sick leave is taken and the costs involved in finding coverage during these times. Leave is a benefit earned, but it’s not to be abused. Sick leave can so easily be abused. If it is, then hold people accountable.

 

Just because leave is requested doesn’t mandate an approval. I remember when, if annual leave wasn’t requested for that year by Jan. 15, it was assigned according to the work scheduling. No two people took off at the same time. Just didn’t happen. If you took sick leave, you’d better darn well be sick and be able to prove it.

 

We are looking at an extremely difficult year or two and – again – I'm willing, as a resident and taxpayer, to deal with the decisions you will have to make in order to keep us solvent and not raise taxes.

 

Good luck and I wish you well in the very difficult decisions you are facing. Better you say NO now for the short term, than to put us in debt for the long term.

 



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