Published March 23, 2010
Reporter Pete Milliken has a must-read story in Wednesday’s Vindy.
Government revenues have buckled under the pressure of a down economy. Millions upon millions of dollars have stopped coming into government coffers.
The best viewing for the buckling seems to change every day — from city schools to Boardman to Poland village to Youngstown council to county operations.
Today’s best viewing is in the halls of Mahoning County government, and specifically inside the county engineer’s operations, where a good donnybrook has erupted between union and managers.
It’s better family drama than when Michael kissed Fredo.
Weeks of headlines have touted the need to let inmates out of jail, to close pools, to nix street paving projects.
Not mentioned in any county headlines:
• Twelve take-home vehicles used by engineering department supervisors, including one to a home 30 miles away. The gas, of course, on the county taxpayers.
• Engineer’s office staff — all of them — getting their 10-percent contribution to their pension fund paid for by taxpayers. This is supposed to be paid by the employee. The taxpayers already fund a 14-percent contribution per person. So when a guy says he makes $45,000 per year, taxpayers put another $11,000 per year into his pension fund.
• The county engineer does not take a one-day per month furlough like other nonunion staff.
• Engineer’s office laborers make 37 percent more than peer workers in neighboring counties.
The county union boss acknowledged that all cuts thus far in engineer operations have been superficial. Now, 11 layoffs are planned to take effect Friday.
Neither side — workers or elected officials — has shown much desire to take taxpayers where taxpayers needed to go most — to the off-the-charts compensation plans of government workers, be they hourly and management.
Real, true, deep pain from lost revenues will bring about real, true and deep examination of where government dollars are spent — and overspent.
If the current round of economic pain yields this kind of truth from the relatively small engineer’s department, imagine what a deepening economic downturn will reveal in much bigger taxpayer-supported government offices throughout the Valley?