Commissioners play Santa Claus with your money

During the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, three Lumpkin County Commissioners voted to offer employees eligible for retirement a gift of up to a year of their current salary as a reward for actually taking the retirement.  Only Clarence Grindle voted against it.

Anyone attending the Commission Work Session or reading The Dahlonega Nugget would know this gift was estimated to be as much as half a million dollars.

Now this kind of thing has been done in some places when numerous employees at the top of their pay scale were having a negative impact on the budget.  A little incentive for early retirement could get highly paid employees off the payroll and allow lower paid employees to be hired or the positions to be eliminated.

When asked about benefit to the budget, County Manager Kelley responded that there would be no immediate economic benefit to the county.  He pointed out that most long term employees were in positions that could not be eliminated.  He added that if all eligible employees took the offer, it would take years to recoup the loss.  To sum it up, we unnecessarily pay out a lot of money during the worst economy of our lifetime and lose the expertise of our best employees.

Let me confess, I trusted the commissioners to reject this boondoggle.  During the only discussion I had with any commissioner on this subject, I was told that the commissioners did not expect many, if any, employees to accept the deal.

Now, let’s think about this.  If you were an employee already eligible for retirement and your boss tells you, “retire by the end of this year and we’ll give you up to a year’s pay as a gift in addition to your retirement.”  What would you do?  Any employee who has any kind of life away from the job would accept the offer unless the cost of health insurance before reaching Medicare eligibility would be greater than the buyout gift.

Amazingly enough, we will be losing some of the best and brightest employees at the end of this year.  Most of those retiring will have to be replaced.  Once again, Lumpkin County taxpayers get the short end of the lollipop.  We will pay replacements to do the jobs; and we will pay for generous gifts.

I have chosen to not publicly discuss this matter before.  After all, nobody else seemed to be concerned about it.  I bring this up now because it exemplifies the importance of staying in touch with our elected officials.  When they don’t hear our concerns about issues, they can make really bad decisions.

Complaining about government is a favorite pastime in this country.  It is much easier to cast blame than it is to be informed and willing to discuss issues.  That is why our freedom is being eroded with every law that’s passed.

When we, the people, evade our responsibility to know what is going on and to be heard, we lose.

If Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, gets away with standing before our United States House of Representatives to say, “you have to vote on the bill and then you can find out what is in it,” then I’m hearing the death rattle of our Republic.  If we don’t wake up and demand accountability at every level of government, our way of life is over.

Get the facts, speak out, and vote.  The future of our Republic depends on you.  Our government must not be allowed to play Santa Claus any more.

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