Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Letter: An undeserved pay increase for the council

January 9, 2002

To the Editor:

I believe our city leaders have misinterpreted the meaning of this as a season of giving. Oh, they're giving all right, but I think when giving to yourself, it's more appropriately termed taking.

At the Edwardsville City Council meeting on Dec. 26, our representatives (except for Tim Kelly) approved themselves a pay increase of 1,000 percent. Not a modest cost of living increase, not even a generous bonus, but a permanent monthly allowance of $250 for council members, and $500 for the mayor. That's up from $50 and $75, respectively.

I realize these bi-monthly meetings, averaging 40 minutes, probably cut into some personal, professional and family time. But I also believe the term civil servant is a somewhat loose description of the dedication these positions should represent.

As voters, I think we feel as if we elect them to a position, not hire them as professionals. If the latter is the case, then we certainly need to upgrade the qualifications.

Perhaps by reviewing some of the issues during the last eight months this administration had worked for us, we might understand how they feel they've been undervalued all this time.

Remember the outlandish tax increase we were subjected to? Was our city formally represented to the Unified Government during this controversy? I don't think so.

Remember the approval of the $100 to $250 monthly travel allowance ($735.34 in November 2001) for staff members? Can that be justified? I don't think so.

Remember the establishment of a $25 minimum plus $.25 per page fee to access and copy public records such as the city's monthly expense report? An effort to allow us to stay knowledgeable of the actions of our council? I don't think so.

But let's be fair here. There have been some weighty issues addressed by our council.

We now know what trees and shrubs we can and cannot legally plant in our own yards. Ordinance No. 780 (July 23, 2001).

We now know to mark our trees with purple paint as a sign to prohibit deer hunting on our property. Ordinance No. 785 (Nov. 21, 2001).

I can only assume the motives for this monetary reward. Perhaps this administration wasn't receiving enough acknowledgement and praise for their official actions. In that case, I suppose they need to create their own reward for serving their constituents. A 1,000 percent increase in salary might just do that for them. If it can't be earned, it can always be taken.

The bottom line again is a simple question. Is this action justified? Is my tax dollar being used as it should, or is it just being used?

I urge the taxpayers of Edwardsville to voice their feelings of outrage in this latest insult. It may be fortunate that we have a rail running through town.

Melinda Hess


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