To the Editor:
Alarmingly, the real debt of our country is approximately $150 trillion, when you include unfunded pensions, entitlements and federal, state and municipal debt. It’s estimated that Medicare will run out of funds by 2024 and Social Security by 2036. Our state is ranked 45th for being among the highest in state and local taxation, 50th for being the worst state to do business in and 48th for unemployment at 11 percent. Our state is experiencing a $93 million revenue shortfall and now our governor, Mr. Holiday Tree, wants to raise the food and beverage tax, another nail in our already dire economy. The question here is, will the Democratic legislature, of which many are in the back pockets of government labor unions, go along?
Our country’s fiscal crisis is so severe, every day our currency loses value and soon will no longer be the preferred international currency of choice, in which to date four countries no longer accept, that will be replaced with the Chinese Yuan. Also, our debt now undermines our national security and the financial security of every American. The reality is this all came about via government labor unions that have undermined the spirit of our taxation. Perverse liberalism has advanced unsound policies, programs and laws and the Democratic Party, their vehicle of choice, has instilled such negative attitudes that our country has become greatly divided. Patriotism is a thing of the past that had always held our country together.
My goal over the coming weeks will be to highlight the multitude of outrageous provisions in the contracts and their outrageous expenses, including alternatives that would cut our local taxation in half. You read that right. When taxpayers realize “where all the money is going,” I hope these commentaries will be passed around to enlighten others.
When residents see for themselves the abuses that the Democratic machine has known for years, hopefully more residents will want to give Republicans and Independents the opportunity to serve. The reality here is many lifelong Democrats who have always had their hearts in the right place had become complacent; trusting career politicians who had seen this coming. The solution now is privatization and real reforms.
The following costs and savings are based on conservative estimates, but first we must begin with a few understandings. Taxpayers are the “employers,” not the employees, and as we bring down the cost of government via reducing the labor force, providing realistic wages and benefits and promoting volunteerism wherever possible, unlike in the private sector, this would benefit “all the people.” For now, I’ll exclude the School Department that employs an additional 448 workers. Therefore, the following amounts could easily be double.
We have 216 town workers who receive between 14 and 15 paid holidays. An average day’s pay is approximately $160; therefore, if we were to allow for six holidays, eliminating nine, we would save $311,040 annually. Also, when a holiday falls on a day a worker is off, weekends or rotating shifts, not only do they receive an extra day’s pay in their checks, they also get a day off with pay, referred to as “Double Holiday Pay.” Over the past two years, Christmas and New Year’s were on weekends, therefore, add four times 216 multiplied by $160 equals approximately $138,240. Also, when you consider rotating shifts, it could be substantially higher. And yet, you don’t hear one elected official complaining. Also, they receive 18 to 20 sick days that can be accumulated up to 200 in addition to three personal days. Upon retirement, if a worker had accumulated 180, they will receive 145 toward their severance packages. However, if it’s a work-related illness or injury, it doesn’t affect their sick time; $30,000-plus severance packages are guaranteed. These excesses not only invite abuse, but when you consider overtime costs to maintain staffing, the amounts are staggering and contributed greatly toward our unionized Fire Department going $2.3 million over budget last year. The alternative is one week’s pay to be used as they wish and contribute to Temporary Disability Insurance. Just the elimination of the three personal days would save $103,680 annually. Note: last year town workers averaged 5.5 sick days, not counting the overtime for others and, to add insult to injury, if only six sick days are used during the year, they receive a three-day bonus.
In closing, our state and local governments are at a financial crossroads in which we need to consider alternatives that should have been in place decades ago. The future doesn’t look very promising, especially for our children, and we owe it to them to do what is right. My next commentary will highlight a variety of costly provisions including health care and contributions.
Conservative Republican Peter A. Filippi III