Pay Increase For City Officials Raises Questions

I read the article in The Post Journal about City Officials looking into granting themselves raises. Usually when raises are recommended, there are three criteria that many entities uses for decision-making: Are the increases justifiable?; Are the increases affordable?; and, is the process for granting the increases fair?

Are the increases justifiable? I have lived in Jamestown all my life except for four years in the Marine Corps. I was raised on Allen Street. I have witnessed many tax increases, services being taken away, neighborhoods laced with condemned houses along with crack cocaine facilities for your recreational pleasure, sidewalks that use to be plowed in the winter, ugly and empty factories that use to be busy and employed our people, and a serious spike in the crime rate. Who is responsible for this decline of our once beautiful city? Is it our city representatives, or is it the attitude of the residents who live here? Granting increases “because we have not had one in a while” is not justifiable. You be the judge.

Are the increases affordable? In 2014 the Salary Review Commission recommended increases. City Council members did not act on the proposal because of budget restraints. However, even though our city still has financial problems it is felt that the increases should be granted. We, the taxpayers, have not had a tax decrease for a while so why not give us one. Two years in a row the city has had a $1 million deficit and has look to the state for a bailout. This is not the time to be granting pay rate increases. Nothing has changed since 2014.

Is the process for granting increases fair (to the taxpayers)? The Mayor and President of City Council get to nominate three members each for their Salary Review Commission. The people that want the raises get to nominate the people who will be recommending the raises.

Or put another way, the people receiving the raises may be in a position to influence the decision of their appointed committee members who would be sympathetic to the salary increase request. Do you think there is a possibility the committee members would not suggest a pay increase under the current policy? This one does not pass the smell test. This could possibly have happened in 2014. What ever happened to performance based pay increases anyway?

Chapter C. Charter Article II C-12. “Salaries” states “Effective January 1 2006, and every four years thereafter, the Mayor and City Council shall appoint a Salary Review Commission to review and recommend the salaries of all elected officials. The Commission shall be comprised of six voting members, three of which shall be designated by the City Counsel and three by the Mayor.”

I do not see where the Charter states that three shall be appointed by the President of City Council, although there must be some amendment somewhere. That was 12 years ago. No one saw a problem with this amendment then and it is inconceivable that no one seems to see a problem with it 12 years later. That particular article should be removed because of it’s conspicuous connotations of possible collusion and replaced by making it a voter issue every four years on our local ballot.

You be the judge.

To quote Benjamin Franklin, Jan. 17, 1706, to April 17, 1790: “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”

Bruce A. Piatz is a Jamestown resident.