Impossible-What If It Wasn’t?
After decades of underfunding of County roads and infrastructure, here we are in 2015 with the Supervisors having a chance to increase funding to make our roads better. While it is generally acknowledged that we have really crappy roads, the cost to make them go from “really crappy” to “good” is somewhat subjective. A reasonable estimate is that $40 million per year for the next 10 years could make a noticeable impact to the good.
So the County decided to reach out to business and industry in 2014 and ask us to “lead” an effort for a sales tax measure that would help fund the needed road repair costs. Thus was born Measure A and only 38% of the voters decided they wanted that tax measure to pass so it went down in defeat in June of 2015. What to do?
Well, the ECA, SOS, and OE3 have teamed up to advocate for additional budget dollars for our roads. We have been talking with Supervisors, Transportation and Public Works staff, and the County Admin staff to help convince them to recommend more dollars be directed towards road repair. While this is happening, the County has virtually every union collective bargaining agreement being renegotiated. Obviously, the renegotiation of these County worker’s pay/pension/benefits packages can have a HUGE impact on the available funds for road repair.
Please understand that I am not trying to take money away from hard working County workers. However, the way those contracts are negotiated is far different than how road funding is handled. Professional negotiators send offers, comments, and acceptance/rejection of terms, benefits, durations, etc. and none of these negotiations are public knowledge. Why not?
Here we were with Measure A trying to get a ¼ cent sales tax passed so we could raise $20 million per year for road funding. Voters did not trust that the Supervisors would spend it on roads as it was proposed as a General Tax. But the County is negotiating for County worker compensation that could far exceed what Measure A would have brought in. The County now has over 4,200 workers and a 1% increase in their compensation package would cost the County $4.6 million per year. I hear one union is asking for an 8% increase over 6 months. God Love Them. But-if the County employees all got that, that would be an increase of $36,800,000 per year. That is nearly the same amount it is estimated that our road repair costs are in order to make our roads go from “crappy to good”. So why are voters not able to decide how they want the current stream of tax income be spent?
I say, let the voters decide. Negotiate the best deal you can, then put the vote out to the voters to see if they want to have THEIR tax money go towards road repair, or County employee compensation packages.
Think my idea has a shot? Haha. Not a chance. It would be impossible. But, as the Grinder asks, Impossible-What If It Wasn’t?
Perhaps the solution is to have ECA members write or call in to their Supervisors and tell them how they want their tax monies spent. Here (again), are the contacts for your Supervisors:
Supervisor Susan Gorin – Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org
Supervisor David Rabbitt – David.Rabbitt@sonoma-county.org
Supervisor Shirlee Zane – Shirlee.Zane@sonoma-county.org
Supervisor James Gore – James.Gore@sonoma-county.org
Supervisor Efren Carrillo – Efren.Carrillo@sonoma-county.org
That’s All Folks!
|Valley Fire Rebuild OpportunitiesThe ECA is adding a page to our website and have arranged to have a direct link to the new website www.rebuildlakecounty.com
Although we are totally sympathetic towards the poor people who got burned out, we are also pragmatic in that infrastructure and homes and businesses will have to be rebuilt at some point. We want our members to be considered when a homeowner decides to rebuild so when they access the website
www.rebuildlakecounty.com, there is a direct link to an ECA webpage on our own website. I have just authorized Tom Boylan to create a special page on our website and this will be up and running within days.
|Groundwater RulesAs you might be aware, I am now serving on the citizen committee to oversee the sustainable groundwater management plan in order to comply with State regs on use of groundwater. There are a few upcoming seminars by Sonoma County Water Agency that you may be interested in attending at some point-here is the link to the information.