Letters to the editor for May 3, 2017
May 2, 2017
Looking at the numbers
Douglas County's cost of personnel — wages and benefits — comes to over 70 percent of the county's total budget, soaking up the financial resources needed for the county's priorities of addressing critical infrastructure needs like flood control and road maintenance.
Douglas County employs one worker for every 85 residents. For Carson City, it's one for every 95 residents. For Lyon County it's one for every 120 residents. For Washoe, one for every 209 residents. All of these counties must deal with the same unionized work force issues as Douglas, yet their populations support proportionally fewer employees.
These staffing numbers are particularly inexcusable for Douglas, the only county with a significant population that resides within GIDs, townships, and HOAs that charge their residents a fee for supplying infrastructure services, such as road maintenance, that the county would otherwise be responsible for. As an example, Ranchos GID provides 11,000 residents with a variety of services, including road maintenance, with one full-time manager and four full time employees. Yet even with GIDs and townships paying for their own infrastructure maintenance costs, Douglas can't meet its most basic obligation to fund road maintenance and flood control.
Commissioners presumably felt a sense of urgency about the coming Spring torrents when it preemptively declared a flood emergency. Yet this urgency hasn't inspired the board to take control of their agenda and make critical infrastructure the top priority.
Recommended Stories For You
At the April 20 Lake meeting there was the Economic Vitality Manager and her high-priced consultant pushing a "report" full of false "voter priorities" from self selecting online polls and workshops — where county employees often outnumber private citizen attendees. Instead of drawing conclusions based on statistically insignificant numbers of participants, how about looking at the most recent BOCC election results and acknowledging that the voters expect the new reform majority to do what they were elected to do?
As to personnel costs, better negotiations with employee unions is important, but the BOCC must go further. Let's see them retain an outside law firm specializing in public sector labor issues to conduct a top-to-bottom jobs audit with the goal of eliminating unnecessary consulting expenditures, positions, or even entire departments.
The taxpayers have a right to expect minimal preventable damage or injuries from the anticipated spring floods. If the county flubs this because leadership didn't take the threat seriously, the voters will know right where to put the blame.
Best season ever
The Zephyr Cove Ski Club kick-started our season with a grant from Epic Promise. This launched the ZCSC off to one of our best seasons yet at Boulder Base Lodge. With the terrific grant from Epic Promise we sponsored six families with scholarships for 20 lift tickets, 54 hours of clinics/lessons and transportation which included a trip to Kirkwood with lunch provided. The ski school, instructors, lodge staff, guest services, parking attendants and everything about our experience at Boulder was exceptional. Our 143 children received the best ever 3 hour lessons a child could receive. And, what about that snow? It was an EPIC YEAR. We would not be able to support our local children without support from Epic Promise, Heavenly and Vail Resorts. Douglas County commissioners, Douglas County Parks and Recreation, Douglas County School District and all the parents and volunteers also played an important role in making the ZCSC the successful program it is today. Thank you, Heavenly Boulder Lodge, "Home of the Zephyr Cove Ski Club", for your leadership, knowledge, and experience. Thank you to everyone in our wonderful community for your continued support for ALL our children. Have a great summer and we look forward to seeing you this fall.
Bob Cook – President – Zephyr Cove Ski Club
Salaries misrepresented in letter
Jeanne Shizuru's recent letter discussing budget priorities misrepresents the salaries of our local sheriff's deputies.
To say that our Douglas County deputies are fifth highest paid in the nation is far from the truth.
The salaries quoted are, in fact, the salaries of police officers averaged for the entire state. Since deputies in our biggest cities are paid much more than the Douglas County deputies, this gives a false impression.
Let's take, for example, two deputies both hired the same year and both with similar assignments but in two different jurisdictions.
One deputy works for the Reno Police Department and gets an annual salary of approximately $92,000. The other deputy works for Douglas County and gets an annual salary of just over $59,000 a year. Remember this is for two officers with similar experience and similar duties — a difference of about 55 percent.
Las Vegas officers make even more. This is public information available online at http://www.transparentnevada.com.
Nevada Policy Research Institute's study does not apply to Douglas County at all and gives a very false impression of Douglas County deputies' compensation.
Las Vegas and Reno officers' salaries distort the average so much that it is laughable to use those numbers to deny raises to Douglas County deputies. Spreading misinformation at the expense of Douglas County peace officers does them a disservice.