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County commission needs to be accountable for budget woes

It is incredulous that the county commissioners are still having issues with the budget.

They just approved the budget for 2015-2016 and now they are $400,000 short. The problem is that the county commissioners get a briefing and make decisions and pass a budget – they don’t build or craft the budget. Also, if you take a hard look at the budget, you will see that it basically consists of four items for all county offices:

• Salaries and wages

• Employee benefits

• Services and supplies

• Capital outlay

A whole lot of county money goes to salaries and wages and employee benefits. We need to change that.

When I ran for commissioner, I surfaced this budget of diminishing returns. However, the two commissioners who were nicely re-elected ran on their experience – so much for budget experience. And in spite of all our budget woes due to revenue shortages, our illustrious commissioners can find nearly $1,000,000 to pay for two roundabouts that no one wants. Go figure!

If you take a hard look at the current approved budget on the Nye County official site, you will find that the majority of the money goes to two categories: salaries and wages, and employee benefits.

The county commissioners’ hands are tied. They have to pay these two items and that leaves a paltry sum to pay for services. They also have to deal with unions that get automatic pay raises due to contracts while other county employees don’t get a pay raise.

When I reviewed the budget online, I arbitrarily selected the administrator’s office. So let’s take a look at the administrator’s office for example.

The following is a breakdown of the money for that office for the current budget year:

• Salaries and wages $506,128

• Employee benefits $214,811

• Services and supplies $59,259

• Capital outlay 0

Total $780,198

First of all, if memory serves, the assistant county administrator receives a very lucrative salary and she isn’t even qualified for the position. The county rewrote the position so that she could qualify for the job. I won’t get into cronyism and nepotism here; something to think about. My only question is: Do we even need an assistant county administrator? For that matter, do we need other assistant positions?

Then let’s talk about the “budget of diminishing returns”. If you take the salaries and wages and employee benefits and do the math you will find that the administrator’s office is over 90 percent in salaries and wages and employee benefits and about 9 percent for services and supplies. No wonder the commissioners have to cut services.

What needs to be done!

1. If we can recoup the nearly $1,000,000 for the roundabouts (and that’s a big if), let’s do that and redirect the money to county services. The county probably can’t do this, but it was a bad decision in the first place to approve the roundabouts.

Who would put two roundabouts on one of the three main roads coming in and out of Pahrump? Think about that! At the same time, the commissioners cut nutrition to seniors and the animal shelter. Now they are talking about cutting veterans’ services. As an aside, there are approximately 9,000 veterans in Nye County.

2. Conduct a complete review of all the positions in the county for relevance.

I would venture to say that the assistant positions could be done away with and those duties could fall to a lower manager when the principal is not available.

3. Every resident of Nye County needs to hold the commissioners accountable for their actions. During the last election, two of the commissioners ran on their experience factor – well we see where that is going.

Bottom line: Let’s fix this or get rid of the problem!

Walt Grudzinski is a former candidate for the Nye County Commission, formerly served on the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission and the Basin 162 Groundwater Management Plan Advisory Committee.

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