A Head Scratcher

I have spent the past week considering things that just don’t make any sense to me, already, this year. You would think that being a fresh year and less than a month into it the list of things that make me shake my head would be short but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So, here we go.

I find it head scratching that people in positions of power are so little in touch with the thoughts of those that actually pay the bills. First, let’s look at the proposal that our upcoming president is looking to move on shortly after taking office this week. President-Elect Biden wants to raise minimum wage to $15 dollars per hour. I understand that voters reading this will be on both sides of the Trump/Biden vote but this proposal should strike fear into hearts on both sides of the isle. Let’s face facts folks. This mandate is a real issue for the Mom and Pop businesses that have already been hit so hard by the closures for the pandemic. These are the folks that were promised “pandemic money” but got little or no relief and now many are getting emails to pay back that penance that was offered up as a life preserver but was actually the ship that never showed to help the drowning man. To force a raise in mini,um wage is equivalent to a pair of cement shoes. If you think store fronts are dark now, just wait. All that is going to be left when the dust settles from the pandemic plus minimum wage increase is going to big box retailers who have been the only ones to benefit from this mess. Sometimes it makes me think that the extinction of the little guys just might be more than natural fall out. Remember that when doors shut for good, longtime employees are also out of jobs. Would it be great if small businesses were in the position to raise the wages of their employees? Of course. But that just simply isn’t the reality right now. When you go out and about, show some love to the really small businesses. They built our country but our country, or at least those that are decision makers, appear to have forgotten how we go where we are and that is a head scratching shame.

And then, locally we have some strange things going on in our county. First, I believe that the school building program could not have come at a worse time. As I have written before, we have no idea just what education is going to look like when the world gets back to some form of normal. Will we need new schools or renovations to existing schools? Very possibly. But, tax payers are feeling the pinch right now. Many are unemployed thanks to Covid closures and public fear of going out to shop and dine. We are in such dire straights that our government has issued us stimulus money twice in less than a year and put a moratorium on evictions to try and keep everyone in their homes and the electricity on. Is this really the time to ask tax payers to foot the bill for new schools? Is this an emergency or can it wait until true economic recovery has a good foothold?

Now, to add another head scratchier, the county is considering additions adjacent to or on? Justice Center property for the County Clerk and Election Commission. Is there a need? Yes but they have been passing this idea of buying or building somewhere around for several years, pre pandemic. It was never so pressing that they felt the need to move quickly. There are places to rent if the Election Commission must vacate the Jefferson County Health Department lower floor immediately. I know that the County is sitting on a small nest egg thanks to hospital rent and a couple of nice roll over years. The question is, how does the average tax payer feel about taking on more debt when they aren’t even sure how they are going to pay their property tax. Maybe instead of taking on more expense or dipping into existing funds for a building project the powers that be could just take a deep breath and wait until the average person is not so pressed for money. Can we afford it? On a purely fiscal level, I believe that we can. But on a perception level, it is way off to believe that tax payers are ready for a school and county building project. For me, it is head scratching to think that those with a vote don’t see what the financial stress is doing to their constituents. Sorry, there is no need so great here, on the county or school side, that it can’t be put off for awhile. And, by the way, why are we continuing to contract for services with professionals that have been the topic of much discontent , as well as the subject of many public meetings, on both the school and county side? Double head scratchier.

We are only a few short weeks into 2021 but it already feels like a lifetime. It is not that anyone is doing anything really bad, yet. It is that the decision makers are acting with no EQ and, in a time that everyone should be aware of the emotional boundaries of those around them, that might be the most head scratching thing of all.

Source: K. Depew, News Director