Open Letter to County Employees

Open Letter to Anne Arundel County Employees

 

Dear County Employees,

As you know better than anyone, the county is facing at least one more very difficult fiscal year.  Because Mr. Leopold used up the county’s cash reserves by overspending revenues by $184 million over the last three years, the next County Executive is faced with only two options in Fiscal Year 2012 – raise taxes or cut spending.  Unfortunately, this is an extremely tax-adverse county, and voters have made it clear that they don’t want their taxes raised.  

I have announced a nine-point plan called Joanna Conti’s Commitment to Anne Arundel County that lays out what I intend to accomplish as your County Executive.  As part of this, I have promised to balance the budget next year by cutting spending, and have been open about the fact that this undoubtedly will require some savings in personnel costs.  I want you to know that my focus will be on restructuring our government, and I will do everything in my power to limit layoffs to only those situations where it is strategically necessary.

Part of the reason we are heading into a fourth difficult budget year is that Mr. Leopold has relied on short-term fixes like spending down reserves and requiring employees to take twelve furlough days rather than making the tough decisions necessary to permanently balance the budget.  Mr. Leopold has chosen to dodge a number of tough questions in this race, including providing details about how he would balance next year’s budget.  While he touts slots revenues as a panacea, any such revenue is several years away, and he has said he doesn’t intend to raise taxes.  Please rest assured -- whoever is the next County Executive will be forced to make substantial spending cuts, regardless of whether they are being honest with you now or not.  

I think you will find leadership style to be the biggest difference between the current County Executive and myself.  Instead of isolating myself on the fourth floor, I promise to have an open door policy and to work closely with employees to determine how we can make the necessary spending cuts while minimizing their impact on the hard-working, talented employees of Anne Arundel County.  

My first priority will be to work with you to determine how to make our government more efficient and more effective.  I suspect every employee can recommend several things we could change to save money and/or better meet the needs of our residents.  Rapidly implementing these cost-savings ideas will be a top priority of my administration.  In fact, I intend to set up a program whereby employees of departments which identify and implement permanent cost savings projects will receive a small portion of the first-year savings as an end-of-the-year bonus.  You can learn more about this plan at www.joannaconti.com/introvideo.    

Frankly, I was appalled that employees were asked to take 12 furlough days and contribute an additional 2.5% to your pensions last year.  I consider a 7.5% pay cut draconian, and I would have searched hard for another solution.  Nor do I want a repeat of last year’s negotiations, where all ten labor groups ended up in arbitration with the administration.  I am open to any and all options recommended by employees, unions or management, including offering early retirement to long-term employees and voluntary layoffs.  

If you are interested in working together to find better solutions, please support my campaign for County Executive.  And after the election, I ask you to join with me in creatively solving the serious fiscal challenges our county faces.  

Joanna Conti
10/22/2010

P. S.  Please pass this along to any other employees who might be interested.  Thank you very much!

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