Saturday, May 18, 2024

MY TURN: Shoshone County BOCC blaming others, working less

by JOHN HANSEN/Guest opinion
| September 26, 2023 1:00 AM

This letter is to express my own opinion, and no one else’s. The new commissioners are pointing fingers and blaming us for overspending for the last four years, but not saying what we overspent on. Why?

The audit report of June 12, 2023, and another in June 2022, both were good reports, as were the previous years. If there was a problem, don’t you think the auditor would have said something?

While holding workshops for the new budget, several private residents – who complained to us continuously about the budget – were asked what they suggested the commissioners should do, Why?

No COLA increase and decreased VEBA payment are all benefits that employees anticipate every year, but not this year.

Commissioner Zimmerman stated at the public hearing that there would be “no raises this year,” and that they “just can’t afford it.”

Without wage increases there could be turnover and limited services to the residents could suffer, decent pay means long-term employees, who live, work, and spend money in Shoshone County will stay in our county.

The previous commissioners worked four days a week, approximately 32-40 hours a week, and were available 24/7. Many times on weekends, holidays, and nights – one or all of us were called out. The new commissioners work maybe two days a week, 5-10 hours a week. They did not get a raise by getting a dollar increase, but working fewer hours at the same pay is a raise. Commissioners' salaries and benefits are paid by the county, and everyone who owns property in Shoshone County pays taxes which go to pay their salaries.

Commissioner Zimmerman does not own any property and, therefore, pays no property taxes, nice deal.

They say we overspent the last four, or five years – what have they spent so far this year? I’m sure the lights, camera system, the new employee for the courthouse maintenance, and now an outside auditor, which is a slap in the face to the clerk and current contract auditor, and I am sure there is more they have spent.

Using the money from Maverik to plug the hole in the budget is going to lose the property we needed to purchase for the sheriff's new facility. Granted it may not be built for some years, but if the county doesn’t purchase it, they will never be able to get that or any other property at that price, and the facility must be built in the county seat of Shoshone County.

John Hansen is a former Shoshone County Commissioner District 3. He is a Wallace resident.