Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hear ye: proclamations cost $1k/year

Hear ye: proclamations cost $1k/year
First in an occasional bean-counting series
By Sam Bhagwat
of The Valley Mirror

Go buy a trumpet, why don’t you?

Proclamations cost Glenn County residents more than $1,000 per year, The Valley Mirror found after doing some math.

The measures — National Weights and Measures Week, Hunger Awareness Week, Sexual Assault Awareness Month and so on — are brought before the board of supervisors, and usually read out loud.

“Proclamations are just a given,” said Supervisor Keith Hansen, who’s spent 28 years on the board listening to them.

Around 14 such proclamations are presented annually; but only eight were discussed by the board (not correspondence or on the consent agenda), so we’ll count 8.5 total. The last such measure, two weeks ago, took eight minutes of time.

About 25 people are usually present, mostly high county bureaucrats. The average person there is paid, we’ll guess conservatively, around $30 per hour.

Multiply all those numbers together, and you get $850 per year.

Now add in clerk time; around 15 to 75 minutes per proclamation to put it on the agenda, upload attachments, and record minutes, according to Assistant Board Clerk Sandy Soeth. Clerk time costs $28 an hour, according to a figure given by Ms. Soeth, averaging the salaries of the three clerks.

Guess 30 minutes on average, and multiply that by all 14 items, by $28 an hour: $196 per year.

Now add the two figures: $1,046 per year. And we aren’t counting the time of figures like Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Jean Miller, who has presented several recent proclamations.

The board can’t stop items from being placed on its agenda, but Mr. Hansen says that proclamations should serve some purpose.
“We have 4-H week because those people are a vital part of our community,” said Mr. Hansen. “A proclamation is our way of publicly thanking them.”

The issue has been discussed before. In an October 1981 board meeting, Mr. Hansen and fellow supervisors spent 45 minutes arguing the merits of proclamations, with then-supervisor Jean Rumiano noting a ban on proclamations in neighboring Butte County.

Mr. Hansen says they sometimes offer some food for thought, but notes that it’s hard to filter them by importance.

“What’s important to you or I might not be important to the next guy,” he said. “It’s better to recognize people than ignore people.”

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