Public shares some of the blame

Regarding the July 12 letter to the editor, “Budget mess: Salary rollback might be answer”: Letter writer Dale Godsey stated county “wages should be tied to a scale that reflects the real world.”

I am a new county employee. I was employed in the private sector for more than 20 years. I am now making approximately 23 percent less for basically the same job.

Where did Mr. Godsey obtain his information? County wages are (on average) less than the private sector. In addition, the county pay scale for each job classification has a ceiling. There are only five (annual) step increases over the first five years of employment. After five years, you hit the ceiling. Many county employees have been in the same job, at the same wage rate for more than 15 years with only a small (.81 percent in 2004) annual cost of living adjustment, and rising insurance premiums.

Certainly there are other issues the public should remember when thinking about the county budget situation. Let’s remember the public passed the “three strikes you’re out” law which required the county to build a jail facility (the only one in the county) to house the staggering increase of law-breaking citizens jailed by this new law. However, the public failed to pass the subsequent bond issues necessary to support the jail’s functions.

Additionally, the county has been affected by the downturn of the economy, and there are other areas you could point a finger at and say there was an effect.

Budget concerns are being addressed now with Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon’s able direction. However, the public best not forget the role we played when casting our vote for – or against – issues that directly affected Snohomish County’s budget. We, the public, share responsibility for this budget situation also and – consequently – should share the responsibility to fix it.



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