Jeff Fry: Ask questions of board
February 17, 2016
The Routt County Board of Commissioners has recently added one more level of government bureaucracy with their 3-0 vote to hire an assistant county manager. This was done at their regular meeting Jan. 26.
With that vote, our commissioners gave in to the temptation to increase the size of government that had successfully been resisted by past commissioners for generations.
Taxpayers will fork over about $110,000 every year for this new full-time employee. That is in addition to the more than $110,000 we will spend for each of the elected county commissioners. Many I speak with in our community ask why it takes that much economic horsepower to manage our county of 24,000 population. That is a good question that we must ask them.
The argument for hiring the new, full-time county employee is that our current county manager, Tom Sullivan, is overworked. Those supporting his new assistant argue that, because he has 12 direct department reports and six elected officials to work with, he cannot adequately do his job.
The truth is, Sullivan has an organization problem. All successful organizations recognize having a dozen people reporting to one manager is a recipe for failure.
Apparently, Sullivan does not trust his department heads, or he would increase authority to some of them. That would enable him to reduce the reporting line to him to no more than five or six departments.
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Politicians always seem to think the flow of tax receipts is unending and ever-increasing. In Colorado in 2016, and for the foreseeable future, that may not be the case.
Routt County and our state depend on tax revenues from coal and oil and gas to fulfill their required services. The coal industry in our state, and more importantly in Routt County, is under attack by the federal government.
Coal and oil and gas prices are very low and expected to stay that way for a long time. Low prices produce low tax receipts. If tax receipts fall far enough, services will be threatened. Would you rather have your roads plowed or add another level of bureaucracy?
Hiring new people is always the easy way out. The political class reasons that all they have to do is burden the working public for more money by raising our taxes, and we will always pay. Actually, solving the organizational efficiency problem is a little harder.
For taxpayers, the easy way out taken by our commissioners wastes your tax dollars. Why, in the name of fiscal responsibility, are our elected commissioners so quick to take the easy way out?
And why will they not take the time and effort to solve problems rather than unwisely spend your money? Why not ask them? It's your hard-earned tax dollars that are going to waste.
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