The 2012 Isanti County budget was a very challenging process and we are still $300,000 short of balancing our budget. One idea we need to consider is reducing the salary and benefits of Commissioners who make two to five times as much as that of our military reservists. I realize that everyone may not agree with this, but I believe we must implement tax-cuts that respect you, the taxpayers’ limited financial resources at a time when many families are living on less income than in the past.
In 2010, the Board worked with unions to negotiate a salary freeze and implement 3 days of furloughs (an approx. 2 percent decrease in compensation for our county employees). During this time, the County Board did not implement any form of furloughs or reduction in our Commissioner salary. I argued that we should “set the example” and not force our hard-working employees to work for less while we maintained status quo. I was accused of “grandstanding” and my motion was not supported.
In 2011, I once again recommended reducing the Commissioner’s salary and per diems to help balance our budget but that motion was rejected on a 3-2 vote.
Here are my two fundamental questions on this issue:
• Is it fair for employees to take a reduction in pay while Commissioners do not follow that same decision?
• Is it fair for an Isanti County Commissioner to make more than double the pay of an Army Reserves Major?
I have served in both positions and a comparison on the responsibilities is given at www.alanduff.net.