The Shell Game…continues

The Columbia County News-Times editorial of June 8th fawning all over retiring Columbia County Administrator Steve Szablewski was quite interesting.  Again, here we have this “newspaper” misleading, or trying to mislead, the public.  We’re not fooled.

How many times is Columbia County going to test the intelligence of its residents?  According to the February 23 – March 1, 2011 Metro Spirit, Columbia County “quietly passed a restructuring program that changes the look of four departments and saves $128,910 without layoffs, furloughs or public consternation.”   We have an overabundance of consternation and if you understand what is going on, you will too.  We really hope that the staff of the Metro Spirit will not accept the gospel according to Cross “just because” and serve as a Columbia County machine’s lap dog as another local publication has.  We hope that its staff will research, investigate, and verify, as is the norm of a reputable paper. 

The Spirit article quotes retiring County Administrator Steve Szablewski: “Work is still getting done,” “Just with fewer people and less expenditure of taxpayer money.”  The article goes on to say:

According to county documents, promotions of existing personnel cost the county $42,706, but those expenditures were offset by nearly $175,000 in savings, most notably by transferring personnel to positions not funded through the General Fund.  For example, transferring two employees to Traffic Engineering was a lateral move for the employees that resulted in no change in grade or salary, but the move saved the county $95,000 because the jobs will now be funded under SPLOST.  Transferring customer service representatives to the Building Standards fund will shave off another $38,000.

Help us understand this.  The same number of county employees are still doing the same jobs for more money, but instead of being paid from the General Fund they are being paid with SPLOST funds.  How does this equate to the county’s logic of “fewer people and less expenditure of taxpayer money?”  Realize that General Fund dollars, from property taxes, and SPLOST dollars, from sales tax revenue, are all tax dollars; OUR tax dollars!  We haven’t saved one penny under this scheme, in fact we are paying more.  We’re all for lowering expenses, but we’re all against trickery, misdirection and deception.

These tricks are more of the same that Ron Cross and his commissioners have used to claim $2.6 million saved over the last 3 years.  The same tricks reported by Barry Paschal as legitimate savings.  We say hogwash!

Some are sorry to see Szablewski leave as is their right.  At least we’ll have a real savings of $139,537 per year…his salary.  Did we mention that Szablewski only works 4 days per week?



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