The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Mendocino County District 3 Supervisor John Haschak, published here as a column, in which he updates his constituents. We encourage the other supervisors to submit letters — we will happily publish them. You can see Haschak’s previous letters to his constituents here. The opinions expressed in this letter are the author’s, not those of The Mendocino Voice.
Strike talk is in the air. County employees of SEIU 1021 took a preliminary strike vote and the outcome was very favorable to a strike. Both sides lose when a strike happens.
How did we get to this point? The County did use $7 million of one time only money to balance this year’s budget. The Board has not offered a Cost of Living Increase for this year and the rising cost of health benefits will take a bigger bite out of paychecks. There have been problems with getting timely, accurate financial reports and this has caused angst all around. The County is going to have to increase revenue and cut costs to achieve a balanced budget in future years.
Beyond these bread-and-butter issues, there have been a couple of agenda items put forth that have been, in my opinion, disrespectful to County workers. There were also comments reported in media that one Supervisor said that if County employees went on strike for a week, no one would notice. This is an insult to all public servants and the important work being done.
Instead of having productive conversations, these actions further provoke alienation and strike talk. The Board and staff need to find ways to work together to get the County back on track.
The CEO started restructuring departments which is called the Golden Gate Initiative. The Cannabis Department has done a remarkable turnaround and I look forward to greater streamlining which will save staff and client time and resources. Changes are happening in other departments such as Planning and Building, Animal Care, Social Services to create efficiencies and save resources.
I have been working on extending renewals for cannabis cultivation permits, increasing the minimum value taxation, and waiving building permit penalties. These improvements will cut costs and increase revenues las more people are brought into compliance with the County’s tax system. When we work together, we can get things done.
Another item to consider is the Transient Occupancy Tax for Short Term Rentals. Right now it is at 10%. Other counties charge more. Every percent increase will generate about $250,000. Most of these taxes are paid by people out of County who are staying in short term rentals. This change needs to be voted on by the residents of Mendocino County. An important Board discussion will include the County’s need to generate money for competitive wages, maintaining roads, and providing public safety.
These items will be coming to the Board on Sept. 12. Of course, these aren’t quick fixes but will put us on a better footing in the long term. We need to be more efficient with tax dollars, respect the people doing public service, and avoid a lose-lose situation that a strike would bring.
I will not be doing a Talk with the Supervisor this month due to a planned surgery. I am available by email [email protected] or phone 707-972-4214.
Best to you.