Letters to the Editor for May 23, 2014

By Jayson Jacoby, The Baker City Herald

Mayor misses mark with personnel cost comments

The Mayor's comment that city personnel costs need to be cut suggests to me that he has less than the desired level of understanding of municipal government. Labor costs, in every city, represent the greatest percentage of a city's budget. Baker City's ratio of personnel costs to non-personnel costs is not out of line with other cities in Eastern Oregon or elsewhere. "We need to cut personnel costs" is the mantra of the politically correct, but uninformed. It also fails to take into account the professionalism and competence of the city manager and department heads all of whom know and support the concept of asking only for what is needed to provide appropriate levels of service to the public.

It would be one thing if city departments were overstaffed, but they are not. There is no department of city government which has "excess" personnel. The staffing levels which exist are no more than needed to meet the responsibilities to and expectations of the public served. In fact, if one looks at public safety staffing in particular (both police and fire) and applies accepted staffing formulas developed by experts over a period of decades those two departments are actually understaffed.

If the Mayor seriously believes that the budget needs to be reduced perhaps he ought to look at the many "nice to have" programs he has supported and put some of them on the chopping block. Cutting essential, not "feel good," services is a disservice to the public the Mayor was elected to represent.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City

Park playground project proves dreams come true

Thank you Lisa Britton Jacoby and all your cohorts, for coming up with a plan to update the city park playground equipment. It looks wonderful. I walked over yesterday to check it out. The park was full of young parents and children doing the same thing. We are so fortunate to have people who are willing and able to put forth the effort to make dreams come true. I will add this to the long list of why I love living here in Baker City.

Betty Duncan

Baker City

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