While the Ada County Commishes are touting a ‘lower levy’ the truth is in the numbers and this year’s budget calls for record spending. If the commishes think they have heard the last of Sharon Ullman they are dead wrong. A former commish herself, the lady has her ducks lined up comes out shooting. Here is her view of the current Ada County budget proposal.
By SHARON ULLMAN
• The proposed budget of $195 million is up 12 percent over the previous year’s budget, but is a whopping 27 percent higher than the previous year’s actual expenditures of $153 million.
• The property tax portion of the proposed County general fund budget has increased from $57 million to $77 million in just four years, a $20 million or 36 percent increase.
• This year, the merit pool for employee salary increases will be four percent, or $3.5 million, because of the “…abnormally high turnover rate that we are experiencing in the county.” The predictably high turnover rate follows the adoption of an ill-advised “at-will” employment policy for all Ada County employees last December by Ada County commissioners Fred Tilman, Rick Yzaguirre, and former commissioner Judy Peavey-Derr.
• The County spent $1.4 million purchasing the retail space on the Courthouse Corridor site and it will cost us another $3.1 million to remodel that space, and space in the almost-new courthouse, to accommodate the latest shuffling of County offices. Lease payments from the retail space were supposed to offset some of the cost of the Courthouse to the public, so taxpayers take another financial hit there, as well.
• One of the departments that intends to move into the retail space, Development Services, had already spent half-a-million dollars remodeling their space inside the Courthouse, which opened in January 2002.
• A few years ago, the County added a public relations person to staff, rather than having the well-paid elected officials speak for themselves. The proposed budget will add yet another PR person to the County payroll.
• The County just spent $1.9 million building an events center at Barber Park, to compete with private companies that provide facilities for weddings and corporate meetings. They now have to spend additional funds to staff the facility.
If you find these facts troubling, as I do, please call (287-7000) or e-mail your
Ada Commishes at email@example.com and let them know what you think. To paraphrase John Stossel, who seems to have said it best, “Give Us a Break!”
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