Thursday, June 9, 2011

Editorial: BOS budget talks are smoke and mirrors

It appears that the unnamed Courier editor is somehow concluding that Yavapai County Supervisors Carol Springer and Tom Thurman, heretofore reliable corporate fascists, have been mysteriously abducted and brainwashed into tax-and-spend liberals.

This because they are trusting management recommendations on pay levels and refusing to cut taxes willy-nilly, instead maintaining current levels, and with them vital services.

When a politician moves against type, it's a clue to pay attention. Based on long experience, I have no doubt that Thurman and Springer would happily eliminate pretty much all taxes and government services if they could.

But barring magical intervention, they have the responsibility of keeping county government working -- schools, health, roads and infrastructure, fire and disaster response, law enforcement, courts and jails, codes and permits, farming and ranching, and much more. Allowing any of these services to decay or die due to lack of funding would be not just irresponsible, but illegal. So we can safely deduce that these tax-hating supervisors understand that reducing revenues further will put the county into an untenable position. They can't do it.

And while Supe Davis criticizes them for allowing pay raises for a third of the county workforce, you'll notice that he's not arguing to reduce taxes. Rather, he's concerned about increasing expenditures, further straining the budget. Again, Springer and Thurman are not well-cast as public-employee-coddlers, making this another clue that they're feeling pinched.

An internal report from county management recommends adjustments across the pay structure to more fairly compensate employees for what they're doing. No sensible person can argue that this isn't sound management practice. (A better question is why the structure has deteriorated so far as to require this kind of action.) Springer and Thurman trust their managers on this, Davis apparently doesn't. Again, the unasked question is why.

The Courier editor goes no farther than assuming the county managers are corrupt featherbedders. "No wonder the public (meaning him) distrusts government," he chides. I'll give you that this kind of thing happens, but you really need to look for evidence before tarring everyone the same black.

Speaking as a stockholder in the corporation called Yavapai County, I want to be assured that the investment I've made in employee training and experience returns as much value as possible. Having experienced people leave because pay or conditions aren't up to standard is the worst kind of waste, I don't care what business you're in.

As a consumer of county services to whatever extent, I expect to get full value for my money in skilled, reliable services. Quality matters, and that does not come at whatever price happens to make the editor happy (hint: free). Voters have charged the county with certain responsibilities that we consider vital, and we've given them the authority to adjust tax rates to make that work economically. I think we can trust Republicans to keep those rates as low as possible, when they aren't starving services outright. (I also think we can trust most Dems to keep taxes as low as possible. The idea that politicians like to waste public money is largely a myth.)

The editor can't see beyond his property tax bill, and just falls into his customary unthinking, anti-tax brainfog.  If it were only him, it wouldn't matter much, but he's disinforming readers on a relatively large scale and pushing the easy anger button, causing more distrust without evidence to warrant it. This is a disservice to our community that can do real damage to real lives. At junctures like this we can be relieved that the editor has so little credibility among people in power.

1 comment:

Amai Mame said...

Your analysis makes a lot of sense.