And ever since then, we've been chasing after those money-sweetened grant lollies regardless of the unintended consequences. Several current councillors have said that we needed to pass the CAOs because we were missing out on "millions" in grants and loans. Never mind that $1.6 billion in citizen equity was just wiped out because of our latest tax assessment. It is more important to our councillors that we pass draconian, unnecessary environmental restrictions so that our County government can become theoretically eligible for a few million in phantom grants. Ex-Administrator Pete Rose was among the most enthusiastic of Lollyscramblers. As far as Council members go, perhaps no one is a stronger advocate for Lollyscramble economics than Jamie Stephens. Stephens sees "missing millions" like some people see Sasquatch. They're everywhere.
|Chasing grant lollies. Is this the economic policy of our County?|
The problem with the claim of "missing millions" is that there is precious little to substantiate it. In fact, looking at the available evidence, it seems like a fanciful bout of wishful thinking to believe in "missing millions." Below are three slides of financial data from the County Auditor which were part of a traveling presentation given by some Charter Review Commission (CRC) members. The slides show that our County's total expenditures and the general fund expenditures have grown tremendously. Where is the missing money? Total expenditures have approximately doubled since 2000. The growth in the General Fund has far outstripped inflation. Since the CRC presented these figures, the County has provided updated numbers for 2012 expenditures, and our County government spent more in 2012 than in any other year except 2006 ... the second highest on record. Bubbles may have burst in high tech and the property market, but our County spending just keeps going and going. And the voters approved a new safety tax in 2012 to help out our poor County.
On top of all that spending, the Lollyscramblers hunger for more. Even if we give the Lollyscramblers the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is possible to get millions more, should we take it? Do they think our expenditures should be $100 million per year instead of $50 million? The Lollyscramblers are often the same people who talk about (the specious) rampant population growth here, but the County budget has grown much more explosively than population. As we saw with the solid waste debacle, every revenue solution can be blown to smithereens when there is no authentic desire to control costs. The Lollyscramblers almost always focus on getting more revenue, instead of cost control. In fact, the only thing Lollyscramblers seem hell bent on controlling are the land use practices of we citizens.
The Council passed the CAOs, and they have no idea what the economic impacts are. None.
|Updated figures in the 2013 budget document (not reflected in the above graph) show 2012 expenditures north of $50 million for only the second time on record.|