If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it
The Fayette County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has just completed the annual budget process. Every year, for the three years that I have been a commissioner, the board has established certain guidelines for the various county departments. Two years ago the BOC implemented a cost-savings plan that included no new employee positions, no promotions, no raises and all current positions were frozen with the exception of public safety (i.e., Sheriff’s Office, Fire and Emergency Services, 911 Center and Marshal’s Office).
Over time, the county work force was reduced from 750 to 700. All remaining county employees were asked to do more with less. The county employees accepted the plan and have not had a raise in the three year period.
Last year, the BOC continued the austerity cuts and required each department to submit a budget with a minimum required reduction of at least 4 percent. Simultaneously, the BOC tweaked the retirement plan and required the county employees to fund a percentage of their retirement.
At the same time the BOC implemented a self-funded health insurance plan. This new plan allowed the BOC to avoid a million-dollar cost increase in insurance premiums. This cost savings will occur each year now that we are not subject to the annual cost increases of traditional health insurance.
Each of these seemingly small moves has enabled the BOC to fund all government activities without a tax increase. In fact, the BOC has not even had to discuss a tax increase due to the proactive measures that have been taken.
As a result of the cost containment measures that were taken, the annual county budget has been reduced $6 million from a high of $79 million to $73 million. This aggressive program has had the added benefit of allowing the county to create a “rainy day fund” of $5 million. The current BOC has not increased the tax rate in the three years that I have been a commissioner. With the rainy day fund, I do not anticipate a tax increase in the foreseeable future.
The one program that did see a significant funding increase for the upcoming year is in the area of senior services. The BOC recognizes that it is a wise investment in this growing population. The money budgeted for senior services is implemented by the wonderful non-profit organization Fayette Senior Services.
During my three years in office, the BOC partnered with the FSS to construct the $4 million state of the art building next to the Fayette County Courthouse. Funding senior programming allows those to stay in their homes rather than a nursing facility. In addition, many senior programs that are offered provide life enriching activities on a weekly basis. Finally, meals are taken to those that can not leave their home.
The above background leads to the purpose of this week’s letter. During the budgetary process that started in April 2010, my opponent has not felt the need to participate in any of the budget hearings. These budget hearings were all open to the public, but not one time has my opposition shown any interest in the process.
I, along with the four other commissioners, have managed the county finances in these unprecedented times with no tax increase, no reduction in the public safety response times and put money away for the future.
I point this out as I have concerns on what changes the Brown/Bost/McCarty team will bring. There is a saying that many know that says you should not attempt to try to fix something that is not broken. The current team works well and does not need to be changed. Now is not the time to put a politician with no experience in office.
I ask for your vote and support in the upcoming election. I can be reached on my cell at 678-520-0583. For more information go to www.erickmaxwell.com.
Candidate for County Commission