PROPONENTS OF $50 MILLION TAX LEVY HAVE WITHHELD TRUE COST FROM VOTERS
March 18, 2015
Josephine County, Oregon —As a voter you can not trust any property tax information coming from Josephine County public employees, the sheriff's office, districts attorney's office, county commissioners, nor the groups promoting a new property tax to fund the sheriff's department. In this article we will discuss an issue that public employees prefer to keep quiet, and for good reason. It's essential that the voter taxpayer be fully informed on what the true costs of hiring a public employee to work for the county are, and learning the identity of a key player affecting government, before voting on any property tax measure.
The new property tax measure, 17-66, is scheduled for the May, 2015 primary vote. The levy has the potential of costing homeowners and land owners an estimated $50 million in new property taxes, over the next five years. This new tax, if passed, will be added to the present taxes being charged for each home, and parcel of land in the county. The $50 million is the cost that you see, but the future costs not seen will be much more, tens of millions of dollars more.
PERS Makes New Public Employees Unaffordable
When additional county employees are hired the costs are like icebergs, with more costs out of sight than in plain view. If the property tax levy were to pass and county officials hired another 25-50 county employees the cost does not stop with the amount of the new levy. The fact is, final costs will be tens of millions of dollars beyond the $50 million levy. How can this be? County employees have a retirement system called the Public Employee Retirement System, or PERS. It's a somewhat complicated system with various levels of benefits and ages of retirement generally between 58 and 65 years of age. When public employees retire the PERS monthly checks along with social security payments public employees do extremely well, compared to the non government retiree. PERS in Oregon is very expensive for taxpayers to fund, and the average public employee will cost an estimated 1.28 million dollars, or more, if they don't draw benefits beyond the average life expectancy of nearly 80-years. A portion of this money is transferable to a spouse upon the death of the retired employee. PERS is the gift that keeps on giving.
The Biggest Sugar Daddy Ever
In Josephine County there are several hundred county employees, each potentially drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars, in future PERS retirement funds. The amounts become staggering and are unsustainable. Consider that when one public employee retires another is normally hired to replace him. Now, the taxpayer is paying for two public employees. Some times they are paying for three public employees for the same job. Two retired and one going to the job until he retires. As an example: Former Josephine County District Attorney, Stephen Campbell, 62, recently retired. The new DA, Ryan Mulkins, 36, was sworn in on March 2nd, 2015.
Mr. Campbell will have an estimated retirement income of $80,000 to $100,000 annually, more or less. This means taxpayers are paying for two district attorneys, one working, and the other retired. It gets more complicated as the previous DA, Clay Johnson retired in 2004, and is drawing PERS. Prior to Johnson, Tim Thompson was the district attorney in Josephine County. So the question is, how many district attorney's are on PERS retirement, while the new DA plods through the years towards his PERS retirement? And the next question is, what is the real cost of a district attorney in Josephine County? It's the cost of the present DA, and all those on PERS retirement. This scenario applies to all departments of county government.
Public employees are really really expensive
The public employee unions, through the legislature, have created a public employee retirement monster or sugar daddy depending on your perspective. In 2012, Oregon had a 16 billion dollar PERS debt. The reason you can't trust public employees to look after the taxpayer's best interests is that they are looking after their own best interests, and that is their lush plush retirement program. It's called a conflict of interests. Some call it a Ponzi scheme.
Passage of measure 17-66 will create an unaffordable future debt bomb, due in monthly payments to former public employees, till death due us part and beyond. Any thinking person is obligated to say no to additional property taxes that creates tremendous debt in the range of tens of millions of dollars annually, to pay future PERS for the new employees. The more public employees hired the larger the present and future public cost, owed by the taxpayers. It doesn't get any plainer than that.
A No Vote Is The Only Option
Josephine County Commissioner's Hare, Walker and Heck must acknowledge the magnitude of the PERS monstrosity. Measure 17-66's $50 million tax levy pales in comparison to the PERS problem. Passing a levy and hiring more public employees only compounds the PERS problem, and rockets future pubic debt into the stratosphere. Commissioners must move to reduce the number of public employees, not put more public employees on the payroll. The probability of the commissioners addressing this immense problem is remote, without the voters motivating them.
This only goes to show who they really work for. Public employee unions, the status quo, and their personal monetary benefits? The public employee unions in Josephine County need to be decertified. Until these issues are discussed, addressed and resolved, there can be no approval of any property tax measure.
To those who think otherwise let them explain who is going to pay for PERS for present county employees, and new employees who will be added to the payroll with money from measure 17-66. Public employee unions have helped to create public employees who are no longer affordable. They have priced themselves out of the marketplace of public jobs. What new business is going to want to invest in Josephine County, when they know all the facts? A no vote on measure 17-66 is only the first step against potential future financial collapse for Josephine County.
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� 2015 John Taft - All Rights Reserved