March 02, 2006

So Many Questions - So Few Answers

Recently I heard of a Union County resident who made a request of the freeholders for some 2005 financial reports and the 2006 county budget. He received back instructions to file an OPRA form and a 2 page dissertation, obviously prepared by the county information department, blaming everyone and his cousin, except the freeholders, for escalating county taxes. There was also a glowing, but wordy report, of what they were doing to address the budget including a hiring freeze, program cuts, installing vending machines and increasing fees to use certain county facilities.

However, many questions remain unanswered such as:
Why is the budget $413 million dollars?
Why do they expect to spend $1.13 million dollars a day?
Why has the county tax levee increased an average of 10% per year for the last 5 years?
Why did they vote themselves a 5.3% raise but are suggesting lay offs of non-political appointee workers?
Why did the county manager get a vehicle which has higher gas consumption than the one he had?
Why do so many county employees still have use of county vehicles 24 hrs a day along with free gas?
Why is the Union County debt service $38 million this year?
Why is there over $10 million in the proposed budget for overtime costs?
How are they going to control operating costs at Runnells Hospital which is again running in the red?
Why won’t they oppose additional taxpayer funding of the freight line running through the county?
Why have only 8 out of 19 state recommendations for repairs at the Juvenile Detention Center been completed after a year?
Why have three of Union County’s young adults died of medical neglect in two and half years at our county correctional facilities?
Why has the county faced so many lawsuits by employees?
Why have numerous suits been settled with taxpayer dollars and why didn’t insurance cover these settlements?
Why does it seem that we have to build something on all Open Space acquisitions?
Why is Open Space dollars used for questionable brick and mortar projects?
Why is it that taxpayer funded mass mailings containing updates of county government activities always come out just prior to the primary and general elections?
Why do these mailings,paid for with tax dollars,feature the incumbents who are running for reelection?
Why is it that during the public comment section of freeholder meetings it is frowned upon to ask questions?
Why does the county counsel’s office say that OPRA requests are not intended to get answers to questions?
Why is it so hard to get a question answered?
Why is it that the agendas for freeholder meetings are not available to the public until minutes or seconds before the meeting starts?
Why is it that if a resident asks to view the county check register, they are only shown one when two actually exist?
Why does the county pay a monthly retainer to a marketing firm and not have a marketing plan available for public inspection?
Why do 3 state legislators appear on the county payroll as full time county employees?
And when are the freeholders going to take a serious position on Pay to Play in Union County?

So many questions and too few answers forth coming from a board that holds no one responsible or accountable for their actions least of all themselves.