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Supports San Juan County Proposition 1
I support Proposition 1 (the county levy lid lift) for San Juan County. Here are the reasons why:
The council has significantly cut expenses this past year and will have to continue to cut expenses even with the additional taxes levied. This economic situation will take all of us several years to adjust to.
The council is acting extremely responsible in mandating a reserve for the future. This was in place in the past and we need to have a county “savings” account just like we all need our individual savings accounts.
The restriction of no more than 1 percent increases in our collection of taxes since 1997 has not kept pace with inflation, but the County Commission/Councils have not ever asked for an increase before. Most of the General Fund expenditures (which is the only fund this increase applies to) are mandated by state law. The balances of the expenditures are primarily in place for services that support our base year-round population (i.e. health services, sheriff, seniors, children).
I support cutting our administrative costs even further and merging some more county departments. Even with this approach, however, the services that this lid levy will mandate support of will probably have to be cut anyway if the proposition is not passed.
Our county payroll has increased far less than the average earnings on the state and national level. The council and the employees are looking for ways to further cut costs while staying in compliance with mandated services. However, at some point the employees will have to consider relocating if we continue to be so comparatively low particularly considering our cost of living.
The programs that will be funded by Proposition 1 are vital to our base economy. The families, workers and seniors throughout the county need these programs to have a healthy community to live in. I am particularly concerned about the seniors and families on Orcas and Lopez. The requirement to bring babies and pre-school children to San Juan for all their immunizations (and during restricted hours) is a huge burden.
This is not a “blank check.” We should continue to pressure the County Council to make more responsible financial decisions. There will be a group of freeholders elected next year to review our home rule charter. I expect there will be further changes proposed for the charter that will provide for lower costs in the administrative area.
Cathaleen T. Cavanagh