President Kevin Wolfswinkel's Statement to the Osceola County Compensation Board

This statement below was read to the Osceola County Compensation Board meeting held Monday evening, Nov. 23, 2009. The board proceeded ahead and voted to recommend a 3.25% pay raise for the County Sheriff and while the recommending a 0% pay raise for the other elected officials. Those voting yes were Greg Kosters, Pam Vande Hoef, Richard Bremer, and Harold Dawson. Those voting no were George Braaksma and Barb Berkenpas. Abstaining was Ken Harthoorn.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Someone once said “Fire, like government is a dangerous servant and a terrible master”. Last year the Osceola county taxpayers urged this compensation board and the county supervisors to take a pre-emptive step to protect this county from excessive financial turmoil and freeze county salaries. We presented comparables of counties of our size which indicated that all of the elected officials were amply paid and in some cases (i.e. the county supervisors and the county attorney) they were grossly overpaid.

We made the presentation last year and this year as an attempt to educate this board and the supervisors that this board is being used as a one sided tool of manipulation and coercion to give them every right to make the wrong decision concerning salaries. Last year it went unheeded.

Here we are a year later well on our way to the beginning of what will become the greatest economic collapse of our lifetimes. At a meeting I attended in Des Moines last week conservative national legislators Tom Latham and Ron Paul told us that the economic foundations of this nation are crumbling around us. Ten states are on the verge of insolvency. The federal government unable to pay its bills continues to manufacture money out of thin air. One of fourteen home mortgagees is now at some stage of default. Most of all the federal government continues to do the same thing it’s always done-spend, spend, spend.

Locally one business after another lays off workers or announces the closing of another local plant and there are no jobs to replace them. Many have been collecting unemployment for over a year with no relief in sight and remember it’s only just begun.

It’s our understanding that county employees are recommending a wage freeze. A ploy predicted by the taxpayers since it is an election year.

We are recommending this board with the blessing of the people it claims to represent recommend an across the board 10% cut on all county employee wages with the exception of the supervisors who should take a 25% cut in pay. This reflects what is going on around us with state and federal employees and would reflect well on this counties concern for those who can’t buy food let alone continue to pay more and more taxes. The first week of August was tax free day this year-26 days later than last year. Nearly 2/3 of our income is now paid to fund an out of control growth in government led by its exploding payrolls.

In an ever expanding effort by OCTA to diagnose the cause of the illness this county government suffers from, a new source of the cancer has emerged to a greater degree this year. The second hand smoke emitted by this nemesis continues as a threat at all levels of government of, by and for the people. We understand that when a request was made to understand why the sheriff needed another raise when others didn’t, a quick response was received from the county attorney and the union he seems to represent. Both responses contained threats of litigation if their rights to more money were challenged and at least one contained information which was misleading and untruthful by reason of what it did not contain. This county’s board of supervisors have a history of caving when someone attempts to force something upon the citizens of this county by threatening legal ramifications if they don’t comply, but are non-committal when a citizen wants to recover his or her rights. They are then ready to spend tens of thousands on legal fees. I find this puzzling.

So what will you use as comparables this year? Workers at Merricks, conveyor, Sathers? For the sheriffs salary will you use comparables of state troopers? Which ones? Those working or those several hundred which have been laid off because we can no longer afford them.

Its time to lead, err on the conservative, make a statement of consequence, don’t follow some vague set of non-binding manipulated set of so called guidelines. Stand up to this union which attempts to bully its way around and dictate to the citizens of this county. It will happen sometime any way only this way will be easier and we will still have our own county government and some level of service.

Elected officials spend your time holding your government leaders accountable. Legal counsel retained by OCTA has found gross negligence on the part of IPERS and its governing board which contains people with little or no investment experience. Your retirement is in grave jeopardy and the time is fast approaching when the voters and taxpayers of this state won’t feel sorry for you if it totally disappears.

Kevin Wolfswinkel
President - Osceola County Taxpayers Association