Stop wasting money
Around 50 county government positions will likely be cut. The county is facing a $7.3-million deficit when it comes to the general fund, fire, and health and welfare services. $2.3 million will be made up by employee pay cuts and furloughs. And more cuts will be coming.
Now, can we talk seriously about the foolish wasting of our tax money? First, stop spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on wasteful studies, consultants, advisers, ad nauseum. We will never have enough money for the overpriced Martin-Gardella property, and forget the white elephant being proposed for that property. We do not have enough money now to adequately staff our Sheriffs Department and our fire crews. This is what I was telling you about two years ago.
We are in a new economy. We have no money, no savings, and no home equity. All we have is a County Administrator who has spent us into a deeper abyss. Now he is turning to the complicit Board of Supervisors and asking them to do something.
Then there are the schools to deal with. A lot of teachers are facing, or already have, pink slips. Population dropping, enrollment dropping, and the beat just goes on. Do we need all those bosses? No, we need our teachers to stay as badly as we need our kids to come back after they finish college. Ironically, in a recent field poll, the only two areas where more than half of the people of California would accept cuts were prisons and state parks, two of Tuolumne County’s biggest employers. Tuolumne County, balancing its budget on the backs of working people.
The elimination of Tuolumne County’s Recreation Department after completion of its already scheduled summer programs is short sighted. Such action will have devastating consequences to the quality of life in our county, both upon our youth and the economic future of the county.
The department’s programs model and impart the traditional character-building goals of individual and team sports and activities. The family programs help strengthen the bonds between parent and child. With many of our county’s youngsters living in broken or troubled homes, the department is a societal rudder by fostering positive self-image and action in its after school, weekend and vacation programs. Without such programs, our county’s numbers of disaffected youth will surely rise along with its companion, juvenile crime.
In terms of the economic future of Tuolumne County, the Recreation Department’s closing will negatively influence the county’s attractiveness to the types of businesses and clean industries that would consider establishing themselves here. Recreation is not a frill. It is a normal part of community life expected by parents and critical to deciding where they can best raise their families.
Prioritizing funding during this fiscal hard patch is difficult. Our supervisors are called on to make Solomon-like decisions.
I realize there are few good choices in this process, but consider this: If the county forges ahead to build the new justice center complex but has no youth programs, the new juvenile wing will no doubt be well utilized if not so crowded that in time we will have to return to contracting out to place our youth.
A single-payer system will save money, as generally healthy younger individuals’ participation will balance the medical expenses of older individuals. Right now the profits generated from insuring healthy working younger persons go to insurance companies.
Jean Howard, M.D.
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Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties