If we stand on the side of truth and strike down this Public Safety Levy, what happens next?
What is not well promoted (on purpose) is the fact the County Commissioners have been dealing with this problem to fund the Jail’s B-Pod for the past four years and yet somehow have magically been able to fund it. How can that be? Two words: Road Funds. The Road Funds is a special fund that contains over $100,000,000. The interest alone on this fund alone can get close to funding the $1,500,000 necessary for Jail’s B-Pod each year. Using Road Funds is exactly what the Klamath County Commissioners have done for the past four years and one of the alternative solutions they could pursue.
Why are the Commissioners advocating the Jail Levy?
The simple and straightforward answer is because it is much easier to ask the tax payers to pay higher taxes than for the Commissioners to do the work necessary to use the Road Funds or find some other solution to fund the Jail’s B-Pod. As an added bonus if the Klamath County Jail Levy (18-100) passes then the $3,000,000 they have committed to the A-Pod comes back to the general fund in order to spend on other programs as they see fit.
Passing the 18-100 is a win-win for the Sheriff and Klamath County Commissioners but a big lose-lose for the rest of us:
- Commissioners do not have to do any extra work to reallocate Road Funds, or find alternatives to pay for the Jail’s B-Pod.
- Commissioners get an extra $3,000,000 each year, for the next five years, to spend as they like to help secure re-election.
- Sheriff does not have to worry about controlling department costs as it is clear tax payers are willing to pay more and more when Sheriff department costs exceed revenue.
- $27,500,000 is transferred from our private pocket books to the government when what they really need is significantly less and expenses remain out of control.
Alternatives to 18-100
While there are no perfect solutions that will make everyone happy, this is the economic reality we face, and face it we must. Telling tax payers to pay more to solve a problem that is caused by the expense side of the ledger is the worst possible option, especially when other options are available to pursue:
- Use interest on $100,000,000 Road Funds account to pay for B-Pod.
- Renegotiate the current arrangement with Community Corrections (which is State Funded). Have Community Corrections pay for B-Pod instead of C-Pod.
- Renegotiate the current arrangement with Community Corrections. Split the costs of B & C Pods between the two agencies.
- If the B-Pod is that mission critical to public safety, then say “No” to other areas of government in order to fund B-Pod. We all have to make such tough choices in life. We never have all the money for all the things we want.
Making tax payers pay more for the same service does not solve the real problem which are rising costs. All this levy does is to “kick the can down the road”. In a few years we will be faced with the same, but a much bigger, problem. Covering up exploding expenses by raising taxes will not solve the real problem. Vote No on 18-100 to send a clear message that it is time government worked to control its expenses like the rest of us do.
You can do with less, but government can’t
When we face a personal economic crisis (a family member is laid off, hours are cut back, a hoped for promotion does not occur,...) we take the necessary steps to adjust our personal expenses to match our new, lower, income. In other words we adjust our costs to meet our revenues. We might try to increase our income, but that is often very difficult — and if we could make more money by doing something else, we probably would already be doing it.
However, governments think they can bend reality and play by different rules. When governments are faced with declining revenues, rather that cut expenses, most often they turn to the tax payer for more revenue. This very thing is happening with the Public Safety Levy. If the Sheriff’s department had a firm control on operating expenses (with costs similar to just 10 years ago) there would be no need for more money.
Instead of focusing on costs, proponents of 18-100 are now running around scaring voters to hand over more money for the same set of services. In other words governments adjust their revenues to meet their increasing expenses. Their internal mantra is,
Governments can never do with less. You must always do with less.
Lest we think the burden all rests on the Sheriff and County Commissioners, it does not. We the people have a particular role and responsibility. That reasonability is to hold our elected officials accountable. It means “trust but verify.” It means that if our Sheriff and County Commissioners (all elected officials) cannot control expenses — and are unwilling to make the tough decisions necessary to do so — then they should be relieved and replaced by someone else who can. We need someone who understands our tax dollars are precious and not infinite. We need community leaders who will take the expense side of the ledger as seriously as the revenue side.
Our elected officials are a reflection of ourselves. So unless we act, unless we say No to deceitful levies, such as 18-100, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.
The TRUTH is that the Klamath County Jail Levy is an unnecessary money grab, asking tax payers for nearly 400% more than what is needed. County government expenses remain out of control and continue to increase at an unsustainable rate, yet no one is truly working on how to solve that problem. Finally, the amount of jail space has no direct correlation to the number of crimes committed in the county — the objective data does not support this claim. And that is the whole TRUTH.