Subsequent to my brother picking me up from the airport recently and asking me about how I was going to vote on the library bond, I've now received my ballot along with mailers for both this vote and the Ogden pool vote. I've also noticed all the vote 'for' and 'yes' yard signs, no against or no signs have been sighted.
I have read the material and think a peek behind the curtain at the larger picture is called for. Both of these are about children, education, and money (taxes). Both are about values and worth. Both of them are like asking someone if they support motherhood and the flag or the classic 'have you stopped beating your wife?'
If you're not going to vote 'yes/for, you are immediately ostracized as being cheap, against reading, anti education, and don't like children. I've been called worst.
For what it's worth, here's my take on both proposals. As a value and worth judgment call, this is the difference between knowledge and wisdom where knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit and wisdom is not putting one in a fruit salad. The value part is what some expert decides the cost of an item, product, or service is while the worth of something is a personal choice. No matter what the cost, how much are you willing to pay for it?
The Standard just put out it's Answer Book with statistics to include Davis, Morgan, and Weber counties. Respectively, the median household incomes (figures used here are rounded off) and numbers per household are: $67K/3.22; $70K/3.32; and $54K/2.84. Including Ogden City (from a different source), its $34K/3.78. The per capita incomes for Ogden and Weber are $17K and $18K. Why are these amounts relevant? Read on.
The library flyer and other information put out deals with facility and program issues for the four branches of the system. The largest chunk ($40K) of the $45M bond will go to renovate the Main branch and to build a new Southwest branch.
Library funds are specific. These funds are designated as a line item on the county tax notice. I believe a better accounting and explanation is warranted as to why the Main building is in such poor condition? Yes, the building is 45 years old but so are my children and they don't have structural problems, corroded pipes, or need to be rewired.
A source of government salaries indicates that the head librarian makes in gross compensation some $154K per year. This, and others that will be listed, includes $117K in basic salary and the remaining in "benefits" received. I don't agree with this amount of compensation. But I also do not think it unreasonable to ask if I got my money's worth as to government entities, departments, and individuals performed up to standard in doing what should have been done at the time things (such as maintenance) needed to be done?
Our governor receives some $149K (base salary, $109K). Some 14 county employees (elected, department heads and others) make from $132K (gross) to $214K and $197K (gross) for human resources and health (I'm assuming health involved here if there are safety & injury issues) department heads.
A government employee making a comfortable living is not the issue. However I have no idea why the citizens of Weber county think their senior officials are worth this much money. Besides the head librarian, who was suppose to inspect and maintain the facility? The photos of flooding, rusting pipes, and old A/C units didn't occur overnight. Was, in fact, the money designated for routine maintenance, repair, and replacement used for these purposes?
In my opinion, based on my gathering of data, it seems to me that paying some people some 10 times the average income of the county should have resulted in better oversight and expenditure of county tax dollars. Another point I'd make is that with all the programs, services, etc the library performs, are these, really, what we want our library system to do?
Having places for children and teens is great and having a summer movie schedule is wonderful. But is that what a government entity should be providing? Are we not mixing parental responsibility and private sector responsibilities here? I thought I was in the most "limited government" state of the Union.
The Ogden pool proposal is similar and so are my feelings. I respect the superintendent making some hard personnel cuts (although I don't agree with who was cut) due to budget shortfalls. I also observe that pools don't directly contribute to one's education but are a nice amenity (if wanted and paid for).
Using the same source, the school district has at least 10 employees making (gross) in the area of $128K to $184K per year. Does the average Ogden resident know or are aware of this compensation? Let me also refer to a recent Outtakes by Don Porter where he writes about higher education (mainly in Utah) salaries.
Mr Porter referred to that no where in the report by the CHE was the term "public servant" discussed. My philosophy of government employment, elected or employed at any level, centers on service. The salary or wage was generally lower than the civilian/private sector but it was compensated by sacrifice and willingness to serve. And it was supposedly designed to be temporary. Maybe the trade off was an earlier retirement than in the private sector.
We have all seen or heard about the shortage of school supplies and teachers buying such out of their own pocket. It might be my perception but it appears to me that the most money goes to those people furthest from the classroom. Do these people, as well as the county employees, have such esoteric skills and talents that we really couldn't hire people at only, say, three times the average city/county resident's yearly income to perform their duties?
With the stated conditions of both the libraries and pools, I'll go on record that these are inflated and exorbitant salaries for the services (or lack thereof) performed. If the pools are "valuable community resources", and I'd use that phrase to describe our libraries, why does the school district run them? For that matter, why don't the school districts run the libraries?
Too much money for salaries and not enough allocated to maintenance, product, service and education.
Bottom line here, under the well known and worn maxim, salaries and personnel costs are the largest part of any budget, if you don't require any further explanation for these proposals that will increase your tax bill some $13.50 and $24.00 per year, vote 'for' and 'yes.' Please also note the last paragraph on the library ballot as to "is only an estimate and is not a limit on the amount of taxes..." part.
However, I would encourage you to do some research before you cast your ballot. I don't tell anyone how I vote nor how to vote. I will suggest to my brother that he consider the above before he casts his ballot.
Thompson lives in Ogden.