Bulletin: Henderson supports Adair
Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Guest Column, Bend Bulletin, 10/27/18
I am a current Deschutes County Commissioner and have served in that position for 21 months. I have been a Deschutes County resident of 29 years and a businessman, homebuilder and lawyer in my work life. Because of my experiences, I have a good idea of what it will take to make our Deschutes County Commission the best it can be — and solve problems like the under-performing 911 radio system, ever-increasing taxes and growing personnel costs.
I believe Patti Adair, candidate for Position 3, will be a great addition to the Commission and will help with these solutions.
First, I support Patti because I am concerned about the county’s inability to reign in personnel costs after the past 12 years of large increases.
As commissioners, we are often faced with decisions that take the vote of at least two commissioners who agree on fiscal restraint. That does not always happen. Seldom are we aided by county staff to find the means to control these costs, so we need commissioners who can think for themselves, people like Patti, an experienced certified public accountant.
Since 2006, which was the peak of the last economic boom, the number of county employees has grown 22 percent, and total payroll costs have grown 79 percent. This 12-year increase in costs includes a 75 percent increase in employee salaries, a 90 percent increase in PERS retirement costs, and an 89 percent increase in health care and dental benefits.
These increases (which total over $50 million per year more than fiscal year 2007) came with a long, crushing recession in the middle of this time span — which makes them all the more remarkable. Twelve more years like this and our personnel costs will exceed $200 million for fewer than 1,200 employees.
Total personnel salaries have gone from $42 million to $80 million since Fiscal year 2006-7. Other benefits payments have nearly doubled: PERS payments from $8 million to $15.5 million and Health and Dental from $10 million to $19 million.
Besides being unsustainable, these increases are inequitable. They are unfair burdens on the backs of working people, retirees, taxpayers and struggling families in our county who don’t have these kinds of salary increases or benefits.
From what I have seen, Patti is more likely to be an economic watchdog for Deschutes County taxpayers than her opponent. This is something she cares about. She also has experience.
Another problem that has received much publicity and could use Patti’s help is the inadequately planned and poorly implemented new 911 digital radio system. Since the inadequacies were publicly revealed last December, we have made much progress, but it has required continual pressure to improve the system’s performance and protect public safety. I have worked hard on this, and I am confident Patti will be a persistent advocate for public safety as well.
Patti earned my support over the past several years as I observed her leadership of other organizations, her active participation in County College and her ability to bring people together on important issues. She has traveled to all parts of the county — speaking to various groups, working for consensus and learning the issues. She is prepared.
Unlike her opponent, Patti has endorsements from a broad range of experienced leaders: State Rep. Gene Whisnant, Former House Speaker and Sen. Bev Clarno, Redmond Mayor George Endicott, Sen. Dennis Linthicum and Rep. Greg Walden, among others.
A University of Oregon graduate and fourth generation Eastern Oregonian, as well as a business owner, Patti Adair will be the positive addition the Deschutes County Commission needs now.
Please join me in voting for Patti Adair. She will serve our county well.
— Phil Henderson is vice-chair of the Deschutes County Commission.