When I entered the race for Wicomico County Council, District 2, I did so because I believed that government at all levels, including ours, spends too much and takes too much, regardless of protests to the contrary. I also believe that the philosophy, ideology, expectations and assumptions we have about government needed to be challenged if we are to give our children the same or better opportunities for the American Dream we have had. As I have been meeting voters I am often asked for specifics on what I would do, where I would cut, and how I would maintain acceptable levels of government services while putting more money back in the taxpayer’s pocket. I present to you the “Wicomico Plan” for reducing taxes, encouraging efficiency in government expenditures and making our county economically competitive and fiscally sound.
The first step is to reduce the burden of taxes and regulations on our businesses and individuals. We have one of the highest income tax rates in the state, that needs to come down. We need to remove taxes on inventory and machinery for businesses and any regulations not related to public safety so they are free to concentrate on business and in so doing, create jobs. This drop in revenue will be offset by cuts in the budget, specifically salaries and benefits. Managers and department heads that make more than fifty thousand dollars would receive a ten percent cut and those making over seventy thousand would receive a twenty percent cut, elected offices excluded. Real average incomes in this county have been dropping and it is time government employees shared in this pain, especially considering they make, on average, twenty to fifty percent more than their private sector counterparts. Benefits should also be brought in line with the private sector (i.e. the rest of us) and all pensions should be converted into 401Ks or self directed IRAs (like the rest of us).
Step two is to introduce incentives for efficiency and savings in government expenditures. This is the most important part of the plan and will give those managers and directors an opportunity to make up any lost income. Currently, government departments at any level are given a certain amount of money to spend every year and they know that if that money is not spent, they may not get as much next year. The incentive is to spend it all whether it is needed or not. My proposal is this. Any money a department does not spend during the fiscal year will be placed into two funds. Half the savings will be put into the rainy day fund. The other half will be given to the employees of that department as bonuses, spread equally among all members of the department. For example, if the public works department saves one million dollars, half a million would go into the rainy day fund and the other half would be spread among all the people who work there. If there were fifty employees, each employee, from the guy who cuts the grass to the director, would get a ten thousand dollar bonus. This encourages the department to work efficiently, save money (our money), blow the whistle on thieves, consider privatization of some functions, eliminate unnecessary employees and other forms of waste. Fees would be frozen so no department could raise them to pad their numbers.
Step three comes at the end of the fiscal year. After each department has a full accounting of monies saved, their budgets will be reduced by the amount put into the rainy day fund and the process will start over for the next fiscal year. Once the savings have been realized, the overall budget can be adjusted and both property and income taxes lowered accordingly. After three or four years of this process we will have a county that is operating much more efficiently and costs the taxpayers, you and I, a lot less. It is time to bring new, innovative ideas to government, challenge an unacceptable status quo and make elections about more than tired slogans and platitudes and make them about ideas and policy.
Candidate for Wicomico County Council, District 2