I love this Peninsula and value the way of life I have enjoyed here for over 30 years. And I am always impressed with the professionalism of our public services, especially because we are definitely not ‘big city’ around here.
However, like so many people here, I live on a Social Security income and value every penny I spend. And I know I am not alone in this need to be careful with my money. With around 10% of the county’s population unemployed and about 12% of families and 17% of the population below the poverty line (per the 2010 census), there are many of us out here who are on strict budgets.
As we know, the PUD is planning a 4.4% rate hike in April 2021. In addition, I was disturbed when I learned recently that the commissioners of our local PUD are eligible to receive a quite extravagant package of benefits when they retire. Here’s the deal: if a commissioner serves three part-time (!) terms and is 55 or older, he or she gets the following for life: medical insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance and life insurance — for him or herself, as well as for any dependents.
Frankly, I haven’t had dental or vision insurance since I left the big city to move to the beach 30-plus years ago and I certainly cannot afford life insurance. And I have never known of a utility to provide this level of reward for part-time work. As the song says, “Nice work if you can get it.”
One of the candidates for PUD commissioner shares my concerns about the PUD budget. That candidate is Pam Hickey, who is questioning the proposed rate increase and would also like to eliminate the ‘pork’ package of benefits for retiring commissioners. In order to get a handle on the PUD’s budget, she has even vowed not to take medical insurance during her first year in the job while the budget is re-evaluated.
From my perspective, then, a vote for Hickey is a vote to get the PUD back on the right track.