Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sign of the Times: County Revenues Just Trickling In

Unfortunately, as the Enquirer reported today, revenues continue to be well off, even below our very conservative forecasts. Sales tax, property transfer tax, fees, and interest earnings--all off considerably. This memo explains in more detail.

These numbers help explain why we fought so hard to head off any plan that committed new spending from our reserves, whatever the purpose. As these numbers show, the reserves are already under major strain as it is. Thank goodness we did not tap into them for any new purposes.

Also, these numbers underscore how important it is that all officials find ways to creatively help with the overall situation we find ourselves in. For example, rather than immediately criticizing Clerk of Courts Clancy for exploring ways to provide court security at a lower cost (as has happened, unfortunately), I commend her for floating new solutions at this challenging time, and ask others to bring their best ideas forward as well.

Any dollars we can save through new and creative ideas will help us avoid more draconian cuts we would be forced to make down the road if these revenues don't turn around.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Pepper,

What good is the idea from Patty Clancy (having crmimnal bailiffs do courthouse security) when she didn't bother to see if it was legal (it's not) or talk to any of the stakeholders (the Judges)?

I don't see how issuing press releases with illegal, unfeasible ideas is productive at all. As a matter of fact, I see it as counterproductive. It takes the focus off of finding REAL solutions to REAL problems aka county politics as usual.

David Pepper said...

Honestly, I don't know much about press releases that went out, etc.

All I know is this is the time for everyone to bring forward good, cost-saving, creative ideas. And of course we have to look through the details of how to make them work--and maybe they won't all work. On this proposal in particular, I'm not as convinced as you are that something can't be done to provide needed security at a lower cost, and I hope that among the judges, the Clerk, and the Sheriff, something productive can be worked out. After all, every dollar we can save in this area is a dollar that can be expended on other public safety priorities.

But either way, the last thing we should do is create an environment where we publicly punish or run down the people who are willing to offer up new ideas to help out, or who suggest a new way of doing things that might save us money.

The better environment is one that encourages precisely that kind of creativity, whether or not every idea ultimately is adopted.

Anonymous said...

David - where was she going to come up with the money if she has made cut to the bone reductions already - that's what I'd like to know.

Also, under the supervision of the Sheriff and the BoCC, as I believe the ORC requires, allows the security work to be put out for competitive bid and the BoCC and Sheriff oversee it - just like we do the jail food service and medical care.

By the way, sommeone oughta take a look at the jail's commissary fund - just another one of Leis' secret stashes of cash. (???) And, is the sheriff getting the funds for the phone contract directly, or is it paid into the general fund?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pepper,

I agree with you that perhaps courthouse security could be provided at a lower cost. However, those kinds of ideas should be investigated before talking to the Enquirer.

The flip side of providing cheaper security is the possible exposure of a lawsuit to the County if something goes wrong. The county is self-insured as you know. If we skimp on security and someone gets hurt or killed, the ensuing lawsuits will bankrupt the County. The County paid out about 8 million (I believe) for the morgue case. How much would the County have to pay for the injury or death of an employee, juror, witness, etc. because we skimped on security?

These are literally life and death issues, and I maintain that they should be treated as such i.e. thoroughly investigated and discussed before throwing them out to the media.

I am all for saving money through brainstorming; however, this issue needs to be taken more seriously than this.

Anonymous said...


If Clancy wants to brainstorm ideas before she goes to the press, by all means, go for it.
However, she didn't do that. I think it is disingenous to say that she was trying to be creative and think of ways to save money. If that is the case, why didn't she talk to the people involved, the Judges, Prosecutor, Sheriff etc., to see if it would work? No, instead she talks to the Enquirer without bothering to consult anyone. I think this is a situation where she either was trying to grab a headline or not wanting to work hard enough to finds a workable solution.

Anonymous said...

anny 2:35 pm & 5:44 am...looks as though you are very defensive about Clancy not including you in the "brainstorming of ideas". Just suggest productive ideas and quit wasting negative energy.

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