Board sets bad example by raising own salaries

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 10, 2001

Brookhaven’s city fathers have been wielding the budget ax toget ready for the new fiscal year. Here’s a look at some areas thatsaw funding cuts that are expected to win final approvalWednesday:

* The recreation department, industrial park expansion, streetpaving, ditch work and grass-cutting.

The aldermen also rejected fully funding a request from King’sDaughters Medical Center for the ambulance service.

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Here’s a look at some budget items that are also expected to winapproval Wednesday:

* A $3 increase in city garbage fees from $9 to $12 a month.

* Five percent pay raises for all city employees — includingthe mayor, the seven aldermen and other elected officials.

For those officials re-elected this year, the pay raise would bethe third in five years. For the new board members, it means a payraise after serving just three months in office. An alderman’ssalary would go from the current $12,960 a year to $13,608. That’sexcellent pay for a part-time job, especially when you consider thetaxpayers are also picking up the tab for officials’ healthinsurance and state retirement.

The mayor’s pay would go from $51,840 to $54,432, plus benefitsthat take his package to over $70,000. That’s excellent pay –period.

We commend Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill for standing upagainst the raises, but thus far he is the only board member to doso.

It doesn’t matter that the total dollar amount of the raises –$648 per year per alderman and $2,592 a year for the mayor — isnot a lot of money in the overall picture.

What matters is that the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen seemsto have fallen into the habit of voting themselves pay raisesnearly every chance they get. These board members knew what the jobpaid before they decided to seek the office. We don’t recallanybody complaining about the pay during the campaign.

Recent months have been tough across-the-board. Budget workby the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict and the Lincoln County School District has been detailedin this newspaper. Families and businesses are also being forced totighten their budget belts.

Yet, instead of being good examples of financialstewardship, the aldermen have opted to give themselves pay raises.At least they won’t have to worry about how they’ll pay their ownhigher garbage bills.