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Our View: Placer supervisors have chance to tighten the ship

Our View
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Voters signaled they want change in Placer County government when electing Jack Duran for supervisor Tuesday. Duran promised to govern in a more transparent manner, avoid the appearance of impropriety, refuse perks and “stop taxpayer-funded excesses.” It is easier to talk the talk, however, than walk the walk. When Duran takes office, rest assured this newspaper intends to scrutinize and hold him accountable to live up to those worthwhile goals. Residents should as well. Duran’s “common-sense” suggestions for change in how the county does business include: · A salary freeze on all executives; · Submitting supervisors to the same unpaid furlough days already required of other county employees; · Eliminating county credit card privileges for supervisors and executive level staff; · Requiring publication of all executive level salaries, benefits and perks on the county’s website; · Eliminating supervisor reimbursement for travel outside of California. “These simple reforms will not solve all our budget problems, but they are a necessary first step,” Duran said in a Journal guest editorial. “In the end, we are all going to need to make sacrifices, but as taxpayers, we should expect our elected leaders to do so first by example.” Leading by example might be the simpler part of the job Duran and four other Placer County Supervisors now face. Depending upon who you talk to, there is arguably a $20 million deficit facing Placer County. The Placer County Deputy Sheriff’s Association feels it has not been treated fairly in contract negotiations. County workers face furlough days, which ultimately decrease their take-home pay. County residents face decreased services. With the state of California in a financial quagmire, money that could once be counted on is now in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Placer County voters also re-elected Robert Weygandt. Supervisor Weygandt ran unopposed, which shows that his support from taxpayers is formidable. That’s a testament to how voters positively view the job Weygandt has done over the last four years. Former Placer County fire board chairman Wayne Nader told the Journal Wednesday that the diversity among the incoming board of supervisors could be a positive for taxpayers. “… I always believe having differing points of view challenges you to think differently,” Nader said. “It creates a healthy working environment.” There are many big issues coming up that will require intelligent, thoughtful, and well-researched decision-making by county executives. The county budget must be balanced in a fair and equitable manner. The Bohemia property, and whether a Wal-Mart or Costco is a good fit for the Highway 49 corridor in Auburn, is also a contentious issue. Maintaining open space and the county’s agricultural heritage, a regional wastewater treatment solution, promoting tourism, showcasing the American River canyons, our county ski resorts and preserving the pristine beauty of Lake Tahoe are other issues that come to mind. Job creation, ensuring a healthy business climate and promoting smart growth are also critical to our county’s future. Voters made their decision Tuesday. It’s now up to the new board to work together, to find common ground, and to do its business publicly so that Placer County can thrive in the future. It cannot be business as usual. Taxpayers, more than ever, we’ll be watching and offering needed input.