The latest request for a salary increase (Aug. 18 Sierra Star) is typical of the Madera County Board Board of Supervisors’ misguided priorities in a tight economy.
The supervisors have been telling us for years now that ‘public safety’ is the first priority of the county. I agree, it is and should be. However, their actions over the past several years speak louder than their rhetoric.
They voted to put a 1% Madera County sales tax increase measure on a March 2017 Special Election ballot which is expected to raise between $6-8 million annually for better fire protection for Madera County, as well as money for the sheriff’s department.
This special election itself will cost at least $30,000 of additional taxpayer’s money. They claim the county doesn’t have this additional $6-8 million annual dollars to pay our fire fighters. But is this true?
Let’s look at a few facts.
☆ Between Dec. 8, 2015 and Jan. 16, 2016, the supervisors voted to spend $4.6 million to increase the salaries for Madera County workers - all which were to take effect by the end of July.
☆ For the 2016-2017 budget, more salary increases are funded.
☆ Now the supervisors are asking us to raise their salaries to a cumulative total for all five of them by another $97,000 a year, plus more in ‘longevity’ pay.
☆ The board is spending nearly $200,000 for a consultant to give presentations to county organizations and businesses to see if they are receptive to a 1% sales tax increase.
☆ The board recently spent another $300,000 to help kick-start a 956-acre Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park off of Highway 41 west of O’Neal’s.
☆ These additional expenses alone are equal to or more annually than what the proposed sales tax will add for our firefighters.
If raising salaries is more important than funding our fire department and sheriff’s department, then put a proposed “salary increase” sales tax on the March 2017 ballot instead of a “safety first tax” and let the voters decide.
I can guarantee you our crony county bureaucrats won’t do this because they know it won’t pass. But of course you never let a drought crises go to waste, all the while spending money for lessor priorities like the supervisors getting a salary increase.
Without public safety nothing else matters. I’m not against county workers making more income, but our Board of Supervisors need to fix their lack of priorities and fund our fire departments first, not their bank accounts.
NOTE: John Pero serves as the coordinator for the Oakhurst/Coarsegold/Mariposa Tea Party