Taxpayers need union rep in budget hearings

October 30th, 2012 by Ken

It’s budget time around the county.   Every local government agency is in the process of preparing its annual budget and looking at ways of getting it through without too much hassle on the part of taxpayers.

City governments, county government, school districts, fire districts – – dozens of special purpose government agencies are in the process of preparing their budgets and, as required by law, holding public hearings to garner public support.

But, of course, these meetings are just formalities.   The public rarely shows up and those who do, are often employees of the agency concerned about their pay and benefits.

Sometimes a government union rep will be on hand to make certain pay increases, step increases and health and retirement benefits are included.  But, seldom is a taxpayer present to protest continual government budget increases.

Don’t think for a moment that local governments are cutting their budgets.  They’re not.  At a minimum all they are doing is cutting the rate of increase.

Most local government budgets are continuing to rise each year.  They have more money this year than last year but are having a hard time balancing those budgets because their costs continue to rise.

Local government officials will tell you that the price they must pay for electricity, for power for gasoline – – most utilities – – keep going up each year and that accounts for the continual budget increases.  Then – – as an aside – –  they say – – oh – – labor costs are going up too.

Labor costs are going up?  Why are labor costs going up?  There’s almost no inflation.  What accounts for increasing labor costs?

And the answer is typical for all local government agencies.  The labor contracts they have signed with their employee unions  have built in step increases that workers get just by longevity.   It has nothing to do with quality of work or of inflation.   It’s tied just to how long the employee has had the job.

Also accounting for increased labor costs are health benefits.  Seldom does your local government require its employees to pick up more of the cost of health care; and seldom does local government give less expensive options.

So, because of labor expenses, the cost of government goes up each year.   Budget shortfalls are not due to less money, but to more costs.

Public hearings are nothing but eyewash.   The real budget process takes place in union contract negotiations, at which no taxpayers are ever present.



Posted in Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

(comments are closed).