Board of Commissioners Meeting 5/20

The more things change…

Public Comment

Marv Rubingh got up and lectured the Board about taxation. He rambled on and on. He basically told the Board to reduce all millages. Specifically, he told the Board that they should take the Commission on Aging millage and the 911 millage all the way down to zero. He told the Board that decreasing taxation always leads to increase in revenue and an increase in property value.

Whether or not you agree with this economic theory, there is still a major problem. The people of Antrim County approved these millages. The citizens of the county chose to have their property taxed in this way to support important county programs. The people want county services and the only thing preventing them from doing so is a Board of Commissioners that pinches pennies to the detriment of the citizenry.

He is asking the Board to upend the democratically elected choice of the people of this County.

Mo Money, Mo Problems

Since the Board of Commissioners is passionately opposed to ever spending any money, the County is flush with la Mula! So, the Board is trying to figure out what to do with all the People’s money that they refuse to spend.

One idea is to take some of the money and pay down the County’s retirement unfunded liability. What is “unfunded liability” ? Basically, the County pays into a statewide retirement system. But, the share that Antrim County is expending through the retirement system is outpacing how much the County is contributing. In short, the County is in debt.

Commissioner Rubingh wants to cut a check and get out from under the debt.

There was a lot of discussion about this. Some of the Commissioners are just way too simple-minded on this very complicated matter. Debt is bad, therefore eliminate debt. But there are very important considerations that need to be weighed in these decisions. A long term plan, and budgetary consideration should be done to make sure this is done in a proper manner that does not jeopardize other areas of the general fund.

Nope. Heck with that. The commissioners voted to damn the torpedoes and pay down the debt. At least they decided on a multi-year plan, but it is still aggressive.

In 2014, the Board took a really good, well-funded pension plan and replaced it with a pile of hot stinking dog crap. They went from a really good and well funded pension plan and replaced with a pile of hot stinking dog crap. The newer employees don’t contribute much to the pile of hot stinking dog crap. This was a self-inflicted problem.

Millages

Commissioner Rubingh resumed his campaign to cut millages. The commissioners voted to cut the general fund millage in a way that saves property owners a couple of bucks a year, but significantly cuts revenue.

Helwig encouraged the Board to consider the fact that the people of the county expect their tax dollars to go toward services. Bargy pointed out that many county departments are running at a minimal level of expenditures, and are running on strict restrictions on spending. Bargy argued that cutting the general fund millage could jeopardize capital improvement projects.

Rubingh does not have any patience for this nonsense. He doesn’t want to wait for budget workshops. “The time for action is now,” he declared. “People are hurting” and he continued to claim that cutting taxes would fix the housing problem.

As usual, none of what Rubingh says makes any sense. The proposed cut in the millage would save taxpayers a few dollars. Nobody is going to take the savings and buy a damned house. The only people who will see significant returns will be the people who have the highest valued property and the biggest land owners. Those people are not “hurting”.

The motion passed. The general millage will be cut. Enjoy your cup of coffee from the Board. Unless you’re rich, in which case you will be even richer! Victory!


Facilities

The Board considered hiring the consulting firm that they have already paid $80k to help them develop a facilities plan. Now, they are debating spending a measly $800 to meet with the consultant about next steps in the plan.

Watrous declared that he will not vote to spend one more dime on this. Lavanway agreed. Watrous says that he doesn’t need to hear from some downstate consultant. Rubingh wants to just ask the Sheriff what he wants and be done with it.

These Board members are objecting to asking a professional planner that can deal with the architectural and engineering considerations of an improved facility. And the facility plan is about more than the jail. It is, potentially, the entire county complex.

Boettcher and Helwig spoke to the fact that the Board had already come this far with the firm. Why would we stop now? That makes no sense.

Bargy pointed out that just deciding what should be done in house, without consulting an engineer is not prudent. This is something that should go without saying. But, on this Board, common sense reminders are required.

Boettcher spoke passionately about the massive needs of law enforcement. The jail is not safe for corrections officers. The corrections department needs a way to deal with substance abuse and the mentally ill (two groups that make up the majority of inmates) and the current facility is not made for those groups.

“I support the Blue,” Boettcher said, and that he would not want to work at the current jail facility.

Remember this is just a discussion on spending $800 on reviewing a plan with an engineer.

Audit Talk

Oh my god.

Just, wow.

The stupid conspiracy theory lawsuit is done. It is dismissed. But, Commissioner Lavanway still wants an audit. Here are a few things Lavanway had to say:

  • She claimed that “we can’t have paper ballots.”
  • She claimed that the Secretary of State sent out absentee ballots all over the state without legislative authority to do so. She did not clarify how the Secretary of State could do this without paper ballots.
  • She was frustrated that the Board could not cancel the contract with Dominion voting systems.
  • Despite the fact that she acknowledged once again that the Board had no authority to do so, she once again renewed her call to conduct a “forensic audit,” whatever that actually is.

This is the wheelhouse of Commissioner Marcus. Hell yes! Let’s do this! He stated that Lavanway was “100% right about everything”. Then, he followed up with a lot of senseless ranting about conspiracy theories. He stated that the federal government was actively interfering with Arizona’s attempt to audit their election. He said that somebody is covering things up. He said that it is “only a conspiracy if you’re not allowed to give the proof”. He dismounted, “We need to make the company prove that there is something more to those machines”.

Bargy pointed out that this was a waste of time. The Board has no authority to do any of this and that it is confusing to the public. Commissioner Ricksgers wanted to know how much this would cost. Why would we spend money for something that would change nothing?

Who could disagree with that?

Christian Marcus could. Mr. Marcus (a fiscal conservative) said that it would not matter how much it costs. He would spend all the money that it took to get the truth out!

Josh Watrous could also disagree. Mr. Watrous (fiscal conservative) is someone that furiously defends tax payer dollars against any spending on public services or garbage cans said “there is no amount that would matter if we don’t have fair and honest elections”.

Really? Are these “fiscal conservatives” willing to bankrupt the county to chase conspiracy theories?

Rubingh acknowledged that “we can’t do it anyway,” and then proceeded to second Lavanway’s motion to do the thing that they can’t do. That is a thing that happened. I approve of doing the thing that we cannot do. That is 100% true.

The motion to pointlessly participate in an idiotic and potentially expensive gesture of futility, thankfully, failed.

Trash Can Update

Because the Board is so incompetent that they can’t even buy a trash can, a concerned citizen asked Commissioner Boettcher whether or not he could donate a trash can for the County park. There are people also contacting commissioners about volunteering to pick up trash. But, of course, there is nowhere for the volunteers to throw the trash.

Some commissioners are wondering why we can’t just provide basic things like a trash can. Yeah, so are the rest of us. They decided to take it up at the next meeting. At closing public comment, there was yet another gentleman that offered to help by donating to a garbage can.

Remember, this is the same Board that already voted to reduce a millage, because the county has too much money. Now, there are people volunteering to spend their own money to donate for a county service. Nobody should have to do that.

Just write a damned check.

That is a special kind of incompetence. Wow.

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