Hernando County is paying the ultimate price for years of wasteful spending. Falling property values, high unemployment, an epidemic of foreclosures, and an anemic tax base has brought the County Commissioners to a 10.5 million dollar budget shortfall.
Recent suggestions from the BOCC to balance the budget include installing parking meters at the only dog park in the county, terminating bus service, sidelining cleaning and roof maintenance at libraries, and leaving dead animals in the road so they can squeeze a few more dollars out of the Animal Services budget.
In addition to turning the county into something that would resemble the former Soviet Union after the collapse through an abysmal lack of services, they want to raise property taxes on a collapsed housing market. The genius of that move is mind-boggling.
County Administrator David Hamilton instead wants to “cut management positions and bloated salaries,” according to the Tampa Tribune.
The suggestion sounds like a breath of fresh air. However, Hamilton will have to put his money where his mouth is, if he doesn’t want to be accused of being a hypocrite. Hamilton is the highest paid employee on the county payroll. His salary is a whopping $140,984.50.
To put that in perspective for local residents under the threat of a communist-style lack of public services, “The current salary (2010) for rank-and-file members of the United States House and Senate is $174,000 per year.”
If Hamilton means what he says, he’ll be the first to volunteer for a pay cut. After that, the cuts should move to County Attorney Garth Collier, who takes a $139,559.36 paycheck from taxpayers, Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek picks up $121,741, as does Tax Collector Juanita Sikes.
In the current economy, there is no justification for any county employee,elected or appointed, to accept a six-figure salary to run a small Florida town.
According to 2000 and 2009 census data, there are 171,233 people in Hernando County. Their median income is $32,572, and in some areas, 39.5% of them are living below the poverty line.
If no one on the county level can come up with a better plan to balance the budget than to cut just about every affordable service left in the county and raise property taxes on the few homeowners left, (that are not banks who have foreclosed), then residents should demand the immediate resignation of that taxpayers govenment employee. The free ride is over.
Cuts to everything but government workers’ enormous paychecks is wrong. Funding them by forcing economically stressed residents to pay for it is criminal abuse of power.
Source: Government salary database.
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