Letters to the Editor, December 29-January 1, 2013
On behalf of the board, staff, and members of the Summit Land Conservancy, I offer a hearty congratulations and thank you to Wendy Fisher and Utah Open Lands for putting together all the pieces to save Toll Canyon.
Between them, Utah Open Lands, Summit County, Basin Recreation, BOSAC, Park City and CAGE made raising $250,000 in just a few weeks look easy.
It wasn’t. Lots of individuals and organizations put in a lot of time and money during the already busy holiday season to make this deal happen, and they all deserve our gratitude.
Toll Canyon is a beautiful piece of property. It hosts a perennial stream and abundant of wildlife. The preservation of this property is a fitting capstone for an amazing year for local land conservation.
In 2012, the Park City/Summit County community preserved the Osguthorpe Farm in Round Valley, the Gillmor/Stone Ridge property, also in Round Valley, and now Toll Canyon. If you donated to any of these projects, you helped them all. When you give to preserve the property that you love most, you leave funds in the public coffers, allowing the county, the city, the Summit Land Conservancy and Utah Open Lands the chance to leverage your donation to save additional landscapes.
This has been a great year for saving land in Park City. Thanks to all of you who cooperated, participated, and donated, because the gift of open space lasts forever.
Executive director, Summit Land Conservancy
Are county salaries appropriate? You decide
During the past few weeks, a charged debate has emerged over Summit County government salaries. Jacqueline Smith has argued that, relative to other counties’ salaries and benefits, they are too high, while Summit County HR Director Brian Bellamy has countered that Smith’s analysis wasn’t comparing the correct job titles. Unfortunately, this is the point in the debate where most people tune out.
I would propose that there is a better way to look at the issue. As citizens of Summit County, do we feel current government salaries are a good use of our tax dollars? Fortunately, it’s easy to get the facts at the Transparent Utah website (transparent.utah.gov). using the Get Started area of the website, and choosing Employee Compensation for Summit County (2011 is the most recent full year), you can find the compensation of all county employees.
Armed with this information, you can compare it to your own salary and the average annual wages ($34,000) and total compensation ($44,000 for people with benefits) of a person in Summit County. You can decide whether $150,000 is appropriate for some of our more senior positions or whether $25,000 is too little for others. You may be surprised that almost 50 county employees receive compensation over $100,000 per year, or you may think that this is money well spent.
The important point is that we should all take the time to understand how our hard-earned tax dollars are being used and then provide input to the Summit County Council. While it’s easy to tune out, our involvement and communicating our conclusions to the council is the only way we can hold them accountable for using our tax dollars appropriately.
The Social Security surplus has been spent
This is a copy of a letter to Jim Druffner of Park City
Your letter to the editor in the Dec. 19 Park Record said that Social Security has a surplus of $2.5 trillion. My copy of the Annual Report of the fund’s certified financial statements for 2008 (PWC) shows a "Cumulative Results of Operations-Earmarked Funds" (Note 9) of $2,325,293,000,000.
Most interesting is Note 5. It says that the trust fund invests virtually all of its surplus in "non-negotiable and non-transferable" special securities issued directly by the Treasury. Further in that note is the following explanation:
"The U.S. Treasury does not set aside financial assets to cover its liabilities associated with the OASI and DI Trust Funds. The cash received from the OASI and DI Trust Funds for investment in these securities is used by the U.S. Treasury for general government purposes." Further note says:
"When the OASI and DI Trust Funds require redemption of these securities to make expenditures, the Government finances those expenditures out of accumulated cash balances, by raising taxes or other receipts, by borrowing from the public or repaying less debt, or by curtailing other expenditures. This is the same way that the Government finances all other expenditures."
Very simply, the government collects Social Security taxes, pays them out as benefits, and, since 1987, has "loaned" the excess to the federal government. The $2.3 trillion has been spent. It’s gone. I believe that if a corporate pension plan sponsor did the same, someone would go to jail. In either 2011 or 2012, the Treasury had to redeem notes held by the SS Trust Fund of about $40 or $50 million. That was the amount by which SS receipts were short of the SS payouts. With the aging of America it will worsen.
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