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County Council's priorities out of whack
A column by the Editor
posted March 18, 2009
COLUMN – The budget process for Edgefield
County is underway and is already proving to be a battle of the status
quo supporters and those who want to see real change in how the county
operates. As usual, the majority of the county council is looking at
county employees to carry the brunt of budget cuts once again by
forcing county employees, who probably won’t get a raise this year, to
cough up $121,000 of their pay to help balance the budget. Last year
the cuts came by reducing the measly 1% raise to only half of the year.
Yet the same majority supports giving away half that amount in free
money to those who do not work for the county. It must be nice to be
To the “movers and shakers” who seem to have a stronghold on the
majority of our county council, county employees, those who actually
make this county run, are mere whipping boys and girls to see that the
handouts continue even during the most difficult financial situation
the county has faced in two decades - if not ever.
While those workers, many of which live at or near poverty level, are
being forced to have $95 taken out of their checks each month (roughly
a $1,200 a year pay cut), the majority of the county council can find
it in their hearts to use those funds to give free money to the
Tompkins’ Library, aka Edgefield County Civic League ($17,500), and
Piedmont Tech ($42,908).
I want someone, anyone really, to explain to me how we can take money
from a county employee that results in food being taken off the table
to feed their children to support private interests that have
absolutely nothing to do with the necessary function of our county
To put it bluntly, the county is basically saying to its employees, “We
need to take $95 a month from you so we can put half of that money
towards your insurance and the others half we are going to give away to
people who did not earn it.”
At least County Council members Rodney Ashcraft and Genia Blackwell are
holding their ground to fund county operations first and special
interests last, but they are outnumbered by those who have held their
seats for the past 20 years – Chairman Monroe Kneece, Vice-chairman
Willie Bright, and the council’s resident village idiot Norman Dorn.
All Democrats mind you.
I find that odd as Democrats always claim to be looking out for the
“little guy” and it is the Republicans on the county council that are
actually the ones trying to protect the “little guy” from their own
Not to mention that the county council has no idea where the $17,500
they earmarked for the Tompkins Library will even come from. Maybe they
can just increase the amount that will be deducted from the county
employees pay to cover that cost. Hey, $100 is a nice round number,
maybe they can just go with that.
Here’s an idea. Why not cut recreation back to $70,000, more than
was ever promised by the county when the program began, and save
$163,000. The county promised to fund seed money for three years to
recreation to get it off the ground and then it was supposed to support
itself. Ten years later we are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars
we don’t have into an obviously failing program. It’s time recreation
is cut free to either sink or swim.
Those who support the funding of the Tompkins Library would point to
this and say it was a viable solution to support their funding.
Personally I beg to differ. If instituted, the $163,000 should be used
to offset the burden being placed on county workers ($121,000 for
insurance) and provide an additional $20,000 to be designated to a
years of service appropriate Christmas bonus schedule since no wage
increase is going to be considered for county employees. This would
leave a surplus of over $20,000 to fund other necessary county
government functions that are being cut.
Needs based budgeting is what families do when their money is cut, why
should our county act any differently? To the majority of our county
council, at least at present, they would rather tell county employees
to cut back to two meals a day rather than three so they can give cell
phones and cable TV to others.
I am a very logical man and I cannot see the reasoning behind the
current decisions of the of majority of council members, because it
sure is not “logic” they used during the initial stages of the budget
Granted, this was just the first “work session” of the county council
and nothing is final until the third reading. I just think it is time
that county employees fill the county council chambers at every meeting
to speak on their behalf just as those who receive handouts do. There
are a lot more of you than there are of “them”. Maybe the county
council should be forced to look you in the eye and tell every one of
you that other people are more important than you are.
I have no problem with funding non-profits and other entities when
times are good, but when times are bad and we take money from our
employees to give it to others, we have a dilemma that no logical
person can support.
© Copyright 2009
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