Balance of power tilts toward fiscal conservatism
The Yamhill County Board of Commissioners has a new potential with the swearing in of Lindsay Berschauer Monday morning, January 4th after winning the election in the spring and avoiding a run-off.
Berschauer said, "I am honored to represent Yamhill County residents and bring a priority-based budgeting approach to the commission. Past county commissioners have exercised fiscal restraint but in the past several years we have dipped into reserve funds as the size of government grows, the cost of county employment benefits skyrocket and taxpayer dollars have been wasted on projects that don't improve the lives of every resident. I ran on a platform of keeping taxes low, ensuring seniors can age in place and keep their homes, and supporting the critical natural resource and manufacturing jobs that makeup the core of Yamhill County's economic activity. I'm excited to serve in this important role!"
The Commission of three has been with the valiant services of a lone conservative, Mary Starrett for the last six years. However, with a liberal majority of two, fiscal restraint has taken a back seat even with an increasing need to control the costs. Plans to go from three to five commissioners have been entertained.
The county has gone from approximately 420 staff to near 650 in just eight years. This occurs while the Sheriffs’ department barely keeps up with population growth. Much of the leap in staff size has been due to mandates placed on the county from the state legislature with no push back from the commission. Pension and health care costs have gone from near 33% of the total cost of a hire to near 60% of the cost of a hire in that time period. As with hiring levels, these increases in benefits are due to actions, or inactions, at the state level.
The commission has entertained the notion of a multi-million-dollar bike path for the use of less than 1% of the county’s residents and ignored the looming problem of the landfill serving 100% of the people that is beyond its capacity. The bike path willfully violates land use law yet receives unrestrained support from bureaucrats that head the legal and planning departments working with the compliant county grant coordinator with none held in check.
Many expect the new commission will return to a model of smaller government that resists going beyond essential services. The need to say no to grandiose programs promoted by the Association of Oregon Counties, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, State Parks and others by refusing their grant money except for essentials is necessary if Yamhill County is to have a say in its destiny.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The county has dipped into reserves lately, so budget discipline must be returned. Future challenges such as garbage disposal must not be ignored or displaced by feel good projects such as staff training in White Supremacy and climate crisis that are an insult to those humble taxpayers who foot the bill. Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer is highly capable and couldn’t have arrived a better time.
|Post Date: 2021-01-05 10:43:53||Last Update: 2021-01-05 15:26:31|