A handful of county employees made county government their favorite charity Monday and called on local residents and co-workers to do thesame.
Wearing black T-shirts -- "$16 x 6 months
0 deficit" in redletters on the front, "Back in the black" in red letters on the back-- Lynn Gregg and five other employees presented County Executive Charles I. Ecker 14 checks Monday totaling just over $300.
The county deficit is $14.5 million.
"There are so few possibilities for raising revenues," said Gregg, an investigator in the county's consumer affairs office. But by contributing to his special fund, "taxpayers would continue to have services in a short time," Gregg said.
The employees gave Ecker a T-shirt and asked for a contribution. Ecker said later he plans to make a donation and pay for his $10T-shirt.
Gregg set up the tax-exempt fund to aid county government after a co-worker suggested in October that the deficit could be eradicated if each of the county's 70,000 households gave $16 to the county.
Each household would have to give $207 to close the deficit.
Regardless, Gregg was encouraged by a donation of $250 from one resident, though he doubts that many more gifts will follow. "Citizens. . . disagree with giving money to the government," he says.
Gregg also doubts the county's 1,600 employees will give $96 each -- $16a month for 6 months -- as he suggests. That would raise $153,600.
"I know $16 is not going to cover it," Gregg said, "but it's the thought that counts more than anything else. It helps fuel the debate" about whether to cut services or increase revenues to getthrough the budget crisis.
Gregg, who has given $56 to the fund, says most county employees think his plan is "a little bit ridiculous (since) theyhave, in a sense, given already" by giving up raises and losing about 2 percent of their salaries through furloughs.
A sampling of employees confirmed Gregg's impression. Most did not know of his plan. And when told about it, they laughed. "I gave at the office," one saidas he got off the elevator. "The county already has my $16."
Gregg, however, was not discouraged. As he was talking, another employee walked up to him and handed him a check for $96.