Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Leaner Times Ahead"

So says the headline of a Page 1 article in today's Northwest Herald. Well, duh...

Of course, the County's income is going to drop. Housing starts are virtually non-existent. But it's not going to have the revenue "loss: that the Herald wrote about. There is going to be an income "reduction", and that's not a "loss." Loss is when you get something and lose it. McHenry County is not going to get it in the first place. And it hasn't been getting it.

One glaring area missing from the possible cuts is payroll. Any business owner knows that, if your business income drops, you make cuts. Talk to the folks at Sears, Kmart and any other retailer. You have less business? You look for ways to cut labor costs.

Apparently, this principle in economics hasn't reached McHenry County. What about all those clerks sitting behind desks piled high with (I was about to say "papers", but I'll change it to Starbuck's cups, donuts, nail files, photograph frames, purses...). OK, well, papers, too. With the bottom having dropped out of the building business, how many cutbacks in real estate clerks have there been? How many will there be?

Where might the cuts be? Vehicle replacement, growth of new positions, "voluntary" freezing of open positions, wage increases, business travel, training and other expenses, funding to outside agencies. Okay, folks, but what about RIFs, getting rid of the deadwood (and I don't mean "buying them out"), cutting benefits and payroll for all County employees - administrators, included. Not just cutting growth - - cutting expenses.

Whoa! Talk about something that will stir up the natives. Well, that's what the rest of us - in the real world - experience. The article says that it's costing us $6,800,000 every month from the general fund to run McHenry County Government. And that's just from the General Fund. What's the total cost???

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