Supervisors didn’t make changes

Published 7:15 pm Saturday, July 23, 2011

One year ago, taxpayers were irate — and rightfully so — after our staff analyzed a year’s worth of county cell phone records.

Massive usage by a few county workers and games purchased with tax dollars left taxpayers with a general feeling that no one in the county was paying attention.

Supervisors vowed to make a change and in some cases they have. At least three supervisors have begun paying all or part of their own cell phone bills. The massive overuse by a few users has been mitigated with so-called “unlimited” use plans.

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Little meaningful change seems to have occurred.

Today, the total number of county phones is lower than a year ago, however, the cost to taxpayers has barely budged — sans the supervisors own reimbursement.

Fortunately, the county finally appears to have hired a good, long-term county administrator, and we hope county supervisors and department leaders will work with the administrator to drill down into each line item and change their spending habits.

The ultimate goal should be to search out ways to reduce county overhead.

Doing that would provide the opportunity either to require less tax in the first place or to provide additional services without extra taxes.

For instance, how much would the county have to save in its budget to help fund a proposed recreation complex?

Obviously, cell phones alone wouldn’t do it, but it’s a start.

But more important, it’s an example of a larger issue.

By analyzing cell phone usage, a simple budget item — one that spans across multiple county departments — taxpayers can get a clear picture of how county leaders regard their stewardship of county tax dollars.

One year later and unfortunately, not much appears to have changed.