11/09/2008: "LETTERS ON 2009 BUDGET"
It is interesting to observe different philosophies used by a couple of our public entities during these times of economic challenges. During the past few weeks, we've seen the San Juan Island School Board struggle to make cuts to their budget while trying to preserve services to their students and families. The School Board has proposed making cuts involving ALL levels of their organization, from principals down to regular employees.
Contrast this approach to the one taken by the County Council. The result of the budget cuts done last year is to cut only the employees that work daily with members of the community, such as public health workers, the WSU extension office and senior service employees. No managers were cut.
Does this remind you of the preservation of top jobs in bank, the car industry and insurance comopanies on a national level?
Remember this approach when you go to the ballot box.
To the Editor:
There is no doubt that San Juan County’s $1.8 million shortfall will impact the quality of life that we all enjoy. Some people will lose jobs, others will have their work hours reduced and even more will lose services to which they have become accustomed. The big question facing our community now is what goes and what stays.
As members of the Orcas Recreation Advisory Board we have always been frugal with the money we get from the County. We have also worked hard to honor the donations and grants that have kept the Orcas Island Recreation Program (OIRP) alive for the past 14 years. We believe that a ‘belt tightening” can be a good thing. We are willing and committed to be as fiscally responsible as we have always been in the past.
Briefly, the OIRP receives $16,500 from the County, a number that has not changed in 14 years! $4000 is returned to the Parks Dept. to pay for administrative costs. The “administrative costs” include an office space, computers, insurance, processing payments and help with contracts, etc. .This is the best $4000 we spend! The $16,500 is about 15% of our budget. We raise $40,000 annually with donations and fund raisers while collecting $50,000 in user fees.
We want to respectfully clarify some of Pete Rose’s assumptions in the budget narrative he presented to you on October 20th. Mr. Rose suggests that in cutting the $16,500 from OIRP it would represent a 13% cut of our budget. The $16,500 cut actually represents a 100% cut of our funding from the county! No other county agency is being cut more than 27% and of the 15 agencies listed in the budget narrative, the average cut is 14.84%.
As a board we have worked diligently to raise funds while respecting any money we receive by growing the program responsibly and with great success. Unfortunately, even though $16,500 represents only about 15% of our budget, loss of this funding will effectively be killing this incredible program by destroying it’s foundation. Since 1993 the OIRP has built an organization that serves hundreds of families on Orcas. Thousands of children have experienced sports, art and other activities and thanks to scholarships, no children have been denied access.
Former Commissioner John Evans identified a problem in 1992 with the children of San Juan County having very few healthy recreational alternatives and an inordinate number ending up in juvenile court, costing the taxpayers money to process. John, along with his fellow commissioners at the time, found a solution by funding the San Juan County Recreation Program instead. Their solution was to give positive attention vs. reactionary/negative attention to the youth of San Juan County.
Finally, to eliminate 14 years of developing OIRP into the amazingly strong community family asset that it is today would be appalling. Even in a time of tight budgets and cut backs, $16,500 is a small price to pay to keep our kids on the right side of the law while maintaining our high quality of life. We believe the citizens of Orcas agree.
Respectfully Submitted by the Orcas Island Recreation Program Advisory Committee