New gov’t getting pricey

After only a month in existence, the new form of government in Montgomery County has proven itself to be a job creator, although it’s creating taxpayer-funded county government jobs.

The new positions include: an executive secretary earning a salary of $45,020 to help the newly elected county executive, Matt Ossenfort; a communications specialist with a salary of $39,393 for writing news releases and carrying out other public-relations duties for Ossenfort and the county; a research specialist for the new county legislature, earning $42,520; and a part-time deputy clerk with a salary of $2,500.

Before voters approved the new government, county officials suggested the county executive/legislature would reduce costs and inefficiencies in the old government, which was led by a board of supervisors. The new system, however, already is more expensive than the old one. The 15 members of the board of supervisors had a combined annual salary of $155,000. The nine-member county legislature has a combined salary of $95,000, but the $60,000 in savings is lost when considering Ossenfort’s $85,000 salary, the nearly $85,000 combined salary of his staff and the $45,000 spent for two new positions assisting the legislature. The figures don’t even include the cost of health insurance for the full-time positions.

We wonder whether the communications specialist, the research specialist and the deputy clerk are necessary. For a county the size of Montgomery, why does Ossenfort need a public-relations person? Ossenfort is paid well. Can’t he handle the communication duties? The legislature’s research specialist is supposedly meant to help write an administrative code for the county, but after that project is finished, what will that person do to justify a salary of $42,520? Legislature clerk Cheryl Reese said she needs the help of a deputy clerk, especially to fill in for her on nights she cannot attend county legislature meetings. Reese recently was elected supervisor in Minden, which could put a strain on her ability to attend all of the legislature’s evening meetings, but taxpayers should not be punished for Reese’s political ambitions. If she cannot fulfill both jobs, perhaps she should choose one of them and give up the other.

Ossenfort and the legislature have put themselves in a hole with what may be unnecessary expenses. County residents should demand the leaders either find a way to reduce government costs to pay for the new jobs or reconsider the positions.