To the Editor:
Recently, Johnston taxpayers received their new tax increases at just under 1 percent. How can it be we have fewer workers compared to 10 years ago, in addition to more revenues via new businesses and housing development, yet our taxes never come down?
The increase was explained via additional costs for trash pickup, workers compensation and insurance increases including less state aid, collective bargaining and pension increases. The reality here is government labor unions are bankrupting every state and local government across the country in which we must demand privatization of services and only pay wages and benefits that reflect approximately 90 percent of the nonunion workforce.
Here are just a few examples of provisions that are costing Johnston taxpayers unnecessary tens of millions annually that the Democrat machine of our town never make light of, i.e. 15 holidays, double holiday pay, 20 sick days, three personal days, 12 percent pension contributions, eight weeks paid vacation and longevity bonuses that average town workers $3,200 annually, some over $9,000.
In addition, anniversary bonuses, grace pay, life insurance policies, $1,800 clothing allowances and severance packages that include up to 180 unused vacation days and 140 unused sick days. As for pensions they are calculated via what was averaged over their three most productive years in which half the worth of severance packages are calculated on to the pensions. Minimum staffing requirements for police and fire is in the hundreds of thousands annually in overtime to accommodate the above.
Note: Regionalizing our services, privatizing rescue and developing a certified standby system would save millions annually. Note: We now have more retired police and fire than present personnel. Note: The average pension for police and fire after only 20 years is approximately $5,200 a month excluding continued paid healthcare upon retirement. Note: It now costs a little over $4 million annually in healthcare costs for retirees.
As for school choice, the present cost per student is approximately $20,000 including kindergarten. However, the combined cost of religious education from kindergarten through grade 12 is half the cost. Realizing every time we read about public education the results are pitiful, why aren’t we considering giving parents and taxpayers the right to utilize these institutions that would save additional millions annually?
Our state is noted for having among the highest taxes, last place to retire, a corrupt legislature and worst infrastructure in the country in which 90 percent of our politicians are Democrats in which the party and the unions are one in the same?
In closing, I hope the readers will call the clerk’s office and ask to be emailed a copy of the contracts and see for yourselves the needless above costs. As for collective bargaining, taxpayers have the ability, via the ballot box, to put an end to these ever-increasing taxes, via electing candidates that have the courage to address the above. Yes, we all have family, friends and neighbors in civil service that we wish all the very best, but unfortunately reality is hitting the fan and we owe it to ourselves and tomorrow's generation to acknowledge the above truth and need for change.
Peter A. Filippi III