To the Editor:

The county is in a budget crisis. The shortfall is alleged to be in the realm of half a million dollars. It seems that whenever I ask why, the answers are pat. They include statements similar to the county created too many new positions or extended existing positions without knowing the long-term ramifications. What it ultimately boils down to, without some other detailed and demonstrated explanation, is mismanagement of county financial resources.

A proposal to right the ship is for county employees (with the exception of elected officials) to take a cut in hours per week from 40 to 32, or alternatively take furlough days. These employees had no say in the mismanagement of county finances, and ultimately have no say in how the county resolves this budget shortfall. This should not be a viable option.

I may be the elected official of my office, but I know that my office would not function without my staff doing most of the heavy lifting. It is unreasonable for them and the staff of the other county offices to bear the brunt of the county’s financial mismanagement.

County leaders need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a solution that does not penalize those who didn’t create the problem, and who literally do the most in providing services to the public. These are the people that actually put in 40 hour weeks. They don’t get to arrive late, leave early and come and go as they please. Most of them go above and beyond their official job duties without receiving extra compensation in the form of stipends as many elected county officials do.

Forecasting the future can be tricky, and sometimes missteps are made. It should be counterintuitive to have those that make those missteps be the same ones we turn to for fixing them. However, that is how government works. In this instance, a better plan needs to be formulated than punishing those who had no say in the process that got us here. County leaders, step up, take responsibility and protect those who do your heavy lifting.

Jim Carpenter

Grant County District Attorney

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