A letter to the editor with a word of caution today:
To the Editor:
An open Letter to the freeholders of Cumberland County: I like to discuss with you the hiring and firing process of our county employees. It is my understanding that as the governing body of Cumberland County you want to layoff or fire some of our department heads. The department heads are listed as follows: Jim Matlock, Public Safety Director, Public Works Director, Don Olbrich and Department of Aging Director, Dale Finch. Other possible layoffs include Jack Surrency, Mental health Division Director, Theresa Van Sant, Director Cumberland Area Transit System and finally 911 Emergency Division Head. At the state of the Cumberland County address, Freeholder Director Carl Kirstein stated that we closed the Cumberland Manor Nursing Home because it is the best position to take for all the citizens living in Cumberland County today.
Some of the children of the workers at the Cumberland Manor might say differently when they have nothing to eat and their parent’s homes are put into foreclosure. These children are Cumberland County residents too. This did not help them. Now we want to put six department heads jobs out for open competitiveness. County Administrator Ken Mecouch stated that one preliminary assessment showed the potential of a savings of $24,750 based on the consolidation surrounding one position, and attrition would yield savings difficult to calculate on an exact schedule. The freeholder director said that the Republicans had a right to fire everyone as the ruling party.
What about the taxpayer? how is it going to effect their taxes? As a taxpayer, I want to know how much is the hiring and firing going to cost Cumberland County taxpayers?
Mr. Mecouch stated it might save us a very small amount of money. But does it really? In 2006 I did a research report on how much money it cost the taxpayer from the moment the employee first came to the personnel office to apply for a position in government until the time they got out of orientation, which is about three weeks. Based on my findings, it cost the taxpayer about $8,500 per employee.
This amount includes background checks, fingerprints, processing fees, etc. Now we have probation period for each employee of about three months, which costs the taxpayer an additional $4,500. The grand total for each employee is $13,000. I am going to times $13,000 by six because the freeholders of this county are going to fire six department heads, which comes to $78,000 and we are going to times that number by two because the freeholders are going to hire six new employees, which comes to another $78,000, which comes to a total of $156,000. A dollar for every man, woman and child living in Cumberland County today because the Freeholder Director Kirstein told me that there are 156,000 citizens living in the county today.
I am now asking the freeholder board to form a committee to look into how much is it going to cost the taxpayer to fire six employees and to hire six new employees. Even if Mr. Mecouch figures it did save some money, $24,750, it’s going to still cost the taxpayer about $131,000 more in tax dollars. We the people demand that the freeholders form a committee to look into the hiring and firing process of our employees and to see if it is cost efficient to the taxpayer. A few years ago, I went to the courthouse and made a speech to the freeholder board. I stood with a woman who lives in Bridgeton. Freeholder Bill Whelan is the only one still having his seat on this freeholder board when I made that speech.
That night a woman from Bridgeton, Mrs. Dee Ryan, and myself were the first ones to present to the freeholders a plan on looking outside the box for solutions to solve our problems here in this county. Now everyone seems to be looking on the outside of the box to solve the county problems. I must say that I was wrong that night with looking outside the box to solve our fiscal problems. I have just proven this in our hiring and firing process.
You must look inside the box to find the right answers. When I look inside the box, I see five components — county government / tax dollars / taxpayers / employees and solutions. Being a program analyst and a writer for as long as I have, I know that sharing services with other counties and communities does not work. This does not work because everybody is fighting for control of anything, forgetting what the real problems are. What does work is shared sacrifices. Case in point again is our hiring and firing of county employees.
Government officials should get over the thinking concept of a certain party has the right to hire and fire employees and making citizens pay more taxes just because they are the ruling party. This format is working outside the box and not inside the box. We the people want to keep our employees. We the people want to keep our library and we want it fully funded. We the people want our landfill and we the people want our Cumberland Manor nursing home back so we can care for our senior citizens, not to put our problems off on someone else.
We the people do not want a shuttle service that is going to cost the taxpayer $1,100 a day and run for six months for a grand total of $2.5 million. We the people want a committee to look into the hiring and firing of our hard working employees. We the people, want the freeholders to put a freeze on the Rice notices to those county employees who are going to be effected by the notice until the committee looking into the way that the freeholder board hires and fires the county employees completes its investigation to see if it is beneficial to the taxpayer.
We the people do not want the county government officials to hire and fire our employees for political gain and not to save the taxpayer any money. We have heard from the politicians, we have heard from the government officials here in Cumberland County, and now the people have spoken, and they have spoken loud and clear.
David W. Mazur