The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

July 31, 2013

Stanly County tax dollars at work

By Peter Asciutto
CNHI

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 — Editor’s Note: This column is the first of a series that will feature the inner workings of the county and how the tax payer’s dollars are being put to work.

During my campaign for a seat on the Stanly County Board of Commissioners I stated plans to work a day a month in various sectors of our county government if elected. I also promised  to write a column and put together a blog to inform you, the taxpayers, on how your money is being spent. The plan is not original.

Bob Graham, when he was in the Florida Senate, was challenged by a teacher to work a day in her shoes.  That challenge led Graham to start working a day a month with his constituents. He continued the practice when he served two-terms as Florida’s Governor and three-terms as a United States Senator. Senator Graham ended up with 386 work days throughout his political career.

I always felt Graham’s plan was a great idea. Some cynics called it a publicity stunt. I’m sure there was some truth to that, however, the knowledge he gained from the work days made him a better legislator.

Twenty-six years ago, when I ran for a seat on the Sebring City Council, I made the same promise. I figured working in the various city departments would be a great way to better understand how tax dollars are spent. Since I lost two bids for a spot on my hometown’s governmental body, I was unable to put the idea into practice.

Since being sworn in as a Stanly County commissioner, I have been able to fulfill my campaign promise by working and visiting  various aspects of our  local government. So far I have spent time at Stanly Community College, took a three-hour tour at the City of Albemarle landfill, set traps and picked up dogs and cats with  Animal Control officers, went on restaurant inspections, took a CPR Class for county employees and shelved books at the Locust Library.

A busy spring at work and the time it has taken to get comfortable in my position on the Board of Commissioners has slowed down my writing. Now it’s time to catch up with some articles and put together a blog.

The time I have spent in the field has been very valuable when it came time to make decisions. Working with the crew in Animal Control gave me a better understanding of the need for a new Animal Control Ordinance. After months of fine tuning, the new ordinance was passed and went into effect on July 3.

Also, in conversations with county employees, many pointed out that they had not received a Cost of Living Adjustment since 2008. During our recent budget talks, one of the last things my fellow commissioners and I  discussed  was whether to give county employees a 1.5 percent or 2.5 percent COLA pay increase. After much discussion, we figured out how to come up with the money to give a much overdue 2.5 percent increase.

Stay tuned, there’s more writing to come. My next column will be about my day with Animal Control and the story of the rabid bobcat.

 

Peter Asciutto is on the Stanly County Board of Commissioners.  Comments can be sent to pasciutto @stanlycountync.gov.