07/12/2009: "Re: County Raises Excessive/Not Excessive & SS Payments"
To the Editor:
I received a letter in a plain white envelope, calling me a liar -no name signed, and no return address- for stating in my letter to the Editor that the Council Needs To Review Union Contract - I stated in that letter there would be no cost of living increases in Social Security payments.
Perhaps it was sent by the same San Juan Island resident who wrote a letter to the editor stating the county raises are not excessive.
I can understand his confusion, as the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments are based on the previous year. From the 3rd Quarter of 2007 through the 3rd Quarter of 2008, there was an increase in Social Security payments based on cost of living a 5.8 percent for COLA for payments starting in 2009.
The copy of the document from Social Security he quotes was dated October 2008. I did recently receive notice from the Social Security Administration that since the 3rd Quarter of 2008 there has been a decrease in the COLA figures and there will be no cost of living increase for the next three years.
"The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) on a monthly basis. We use the CPI-W to annually adjust benefits paid to Social Security beneficiaries."
For the first time in over seventeen years, the figures for 2009 have been down. See comparison for the first five months of this year:
2008 Jan. 206.744 Feb.207.254 Mar.209.147 Apr. 210.698 May 212.788
2009 Jan. 205.700 Feb.206.708 Mar.207.218 Apr. 207.925 May. 208.774
Unemployment figures now for the US are over 9% and are predicted to reach over 10% soon. The County is laying off employees trying to balance their budget. July 1st, the Council authorized roughly $884,000 in cuts to the 2009 budget.
This is NOT the time to be giving an increase in wages to County union employees retroactive to Jan. 2009, with an additional increase this month, (total 3%), and a contract agreement for additional 3% for the remaining three years of the contract.
They are all lucky to even have their jobs! I never questioned the dedication of County employees, or their hard work, but it is important that we all take responsibility for our economy and not give or take any raises at this time.
Helen Chapman King
San Juan Island