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For board, it’s ‘do as we say, not as we do’

With their efforts to include themselves in 5 percent pay raiseplans for city employees, Brookhaven aldermen seem to be followingthe old saying of “Do as we say, not as we do.”

In adopting the new year budget, city departments have been toldto go without funds for requested equipment and other needs, andmoney for some activities — like paving and an industrial landpurchase — is also lacking. Yet the budget belt-tightening has notprevented board members and the mayor from wanting to fatten theirown paychecks.

With last week’s budget OK, aldermen set aside money for theirhigher pay: $13,608 for an individual board member and $54,432 forthe mayor. That does not include health insurance benefits andstate retirement.

But the attorney general’s office said another vote is needed tomake new salaries for elected officials and city employees officialby spreading the higher totals on the board’s minutes. That vote isexpected at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Tuesday’s vote represents a chance for the other board membersto join Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill and Alderman at large LesBumgarner, both of whom were just elected in July, in rejecting theunnecessary pay raises.

We do not dispute that workers need pay raises, especially thecity’s full time, non-elected employees. Nor do we dispute a fairsalary for elected officials. One theory is that a good salaryattracts good people to seek the job.

But, when in comes to voting yourself a pay raise, there isalways a conflict. We think a better solution would be for boardmembers to vote for pay raises in the last year of their term to beeffective for the next four-year term.

It appears that possibility has never crossed the minds of someof our city fathers. Perhaps it will before the next boardmeeting.