Contributed by Margaret Tweet
On Tuesday Dec. 7, I attended the 6 PM Clark County budget hearing to object to tax, holiday, and benefits inflation in Clark County government ,when inflation is reportedly at bay. One citizen informed Commissioner Stuart that his political signs were up past the due date for removal. The election was Nov. 2. She noted that his signs boasted a motto like, Because We Care. I also informed Commissioner Stuart that one of his signs was still up on Mill Plain near the East Vancouver police station and he took notes on the location. I also pointed out that other democrat signs still littered Mill Plain, mostly in the median including those of Jim Moeller, Jim Jacks, Tony Golik ,Shotwell , Denny Heck and Doug Lasher on 192nd. As of 2 PM Friday December 17, these same signs still littered Mill Plain, and Doug Lasher’s sign is picked up. A purple Janet Seekins sign is over by the Camas Mill. Do the rules in Vancouver apply to democrats ?
Citizen after citizen testified about the harsh realities of lay- offs, pay cuts, inability to afford insurance, and foreclosures as well as rising contributions to insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles. County employees haven’t yet contributed anything to insurance premiums for medical, dental, vision, long term disability or life insurance. These premiums add up to as much as $1772 for full family coverage per month in 2010, and are going up in 2011. The county will pay over $26 million for those insurance premiums in 2010. Meanwhile, Governor Gregoire recently renegotiated with state workers to increase the state employee contribution to medical premiums from 12- 15%. Private business typically contribute more, about 19% for employee only, and 27% for full family coverage according to a 2010 Kaiser Foundation study. It’s time for the county to renegotiate so that county employees pay their fair share.
The county also grants generous paid vacation, holiday and sick leave schedules.
Vacation accumulates to very high limits and is paid out when employment stops. Sick leave also accumulates and is partially paid out. Unions successfully lobbied for another holiday too, now 15 holidays for many employees starting in 2011. In comparison, Ft. Vancouver libraries and the City of Vancouver have 10 holidays.
On the budget, the good news is that a 2.5% salary perk that the county paid into deferred comp plans for some managers making from about $ 83,000 to $170,000/year was suspended for 2 years. This will save the county about $ 80,000/year. The bad news was taxes were unnecessarily hiked again by 1% of the general fund, this year unanimously. Last year, Commissioners Stuart and Boldt raised taxes over Commissioner Mielkes’ “NO” vote. If employees contributed just 10% to the $26 million of insurance premiums in 2010, the budget “shortfall” would have been met with funds leftover to avert a discussed tax hike for the road fund next year.
Compiled by Margaret Tweet