District 3 Commissioner John Tobia’s proposed lobbyist registration ordinance failed to pass this evening, with only District 5 Commissioner Kristine Isnardi supporting the measure.
There seemed to be two primary concerns among the other Commissioners:
- That the ordinance would somehow prohibit citizens or volunteers from speaking to Commissioners without paying a registration fee. This was in spite of the fact Tobia repeatedly said they could further clarify the language to ensure there was no confusion about the definition of “lobbyist”.
- The most amusing concern cited by the staunch conservatives (sarcasm intended here) opposed to the measure was that the ordinance would add another layer of bureaucracy to the county, and that it would create another financial burden for the county.
It is this second concern the other Commissioners cited that was the most laughable. According to what information Tobia was able to gather, there are perhaps 20 lobbyists in the county that would be subject to this ordinance.
Let’s say for sake of argument there are 50. If the registration occurs annually, how long do you think it would take a county office worker to process 50 registrations that consist of a one or two page form and some form of payment for the registration fee?
Let’s say it takes 15 minutes to process each application and fee – that’s 50 X 15 minutes or 12.5 hours of staff time; not per day, or per week, but PER YEAR! Let’s say that the personnel that would process that type of application makes $30,000 per year – that’s $14.42 per hour, or $180.25 PER YEAR.
I hope you can see the humor here. The same Commissioners who ran as fiscal conservatives but have voted for every bloated budget and tax increase to come down the pipe, are now deeply concerned about spending $180 per year to ensure transparency for the taxpayers.
Here’s a suggestion for the three “small government” commissioners who were so concerned about additional bureaucracy and the costs associated with it: if you’re so concerned, perhaps one of you could move to dispense with county occupational licenses – something that really is an extra layer of bureaucracy, adds to the cost of running a small business, and and does take time real and money to manage.
I wish I could say I was surprised by the outcome this evening, but I’m not. Once again, in spite of adding two solid fiscal conservatives to the board, we have a 3-2 vote going the wrong way. And worse, the ones voting the wrong way are doing it in the name of fiscal conservatism!