Pay Raises Can Wait

The pay rate for Jamestown’s City Council positions has remained the same for three decades. It shouldn’t increase in the near future either, as long as city residents continue to suffer through suffocating taxes.

A Salary Review Commission gathers every four years to discuss pay for the mayor and City Council. The commission recommended a raise for council members from $5,000 to $6,000 next year and a bump for the council president from $6,000 to $7,000. Additionally, the commission recommended adding on a $500 bonus for committee chairs.

Finance Committee members during a Monday meeting said – despite the 31-year wage freeze – now isn’t the time for a raise. Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman and Finance Committee chairman, cited concerns regarding the 2016 budget and the city’s constitutional tax margin.

Jamestown officials have to combat a .73 percent tax cap for next year’s budget. Property taxpayers whose municipalities remain under the cap receive rebate checks for any tax increases they paid. City officials must also battle the constitutional tax margin, which forces municipalities to keep their tax levies below 2 percent of the total assessed property value in the community. The city’s constitutional tax margin reached 95 percent in the 2015 budget.

Dolce is right; Jamestown officials don’t have much room to work with this year. Councilwoman Kimberly Ecklund and President Greg Rabb agreed.

Local officials frequently complain about state mandates. With much of the city budget out of their hands, it’s good to see Finance Committee members avoiding additional expenses when they can. A 31-year wage freeze may seem extreme, but as long as the city remains in tax trouble, pay raises for elected officials can wait.