City Government

Councilors Should Delay Pay Hikes

After our earlier post regarding raises for Boise’s Mayor and City Council, readers prompted us to actually take a position on the proposed ordinance which will be considered today at first reading.

The GUARDIAN sent the following letter to each member of the City Council.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I posted a GUARDIAN STORY about the pending ordinance granting yourselves pay raises in my usual acerbic tone and was pleasantly surprised with the well reasoned comments from the readers.

In short, folks aren’t opposed to giving each of you and the Mayor pay hikes, but they don’t think you should have the right to grant the raises to yourselves. I share that sentiment.

I would like to suggest that you introduce an alternative ordinance that would go into affect AFTER the last one of your terms’ expires. That way at “contract renewal time” you start at a new wage–approved by the previous council. We don’t have longevity bonuses for politicians. Each of you–just like congress and the legislature–get equal pay.

Arguments about not getting raises for many years are simply invalid. Each of you ran for office within the past three years and agreed with the citizens to serve us for a period of four years and–by implication–at the prevailing wage. There was no mention during campaigns of, “Elect me now, but I reserve the right to take more at my discretion.” You also have no expectation of serving more than four years unless citizens decide to rehire you and extend your contract.

That said, I would gladly support an effort to codify the idea of standing for election before receiving a pay hike and applaud each of you for taking the ethical high ground. As for the $150 monthly expense, just ask yourselves if other staffers deserve it for the meetings they attend. I also think the city would be able to provide cell phones at a group rate just like they do for coppers–but the billing would of course be a public record. My fear is future councilors could let things get out of control like the Kempthorne days when the car allowance would have made payments on the finest vehicles on the market. We must also never forget the “P-Card” abuse which began as a cost saving measure to cut administrative work on petty expenses.”

Thanks for your consideration and I would be happy to hear thoughts from each of you.


Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Idaho Code 50-203 regulates when city officials can receive a change in compensation. The code requires the ordinance be passed atleast 75 days prior to a general city election, and any approved changes cannot take place until January 1 of the year following the election. Basically, if Boise passes this ordinance, atleast half of the council will have to stand for election before taking any raise. Not identical to your proposal, but the statute does give the voter the chance to throw half the bums out if they don’t agree with the compensation.

  2. Grumpy ole guy
    Oct 30, 2012, 3:07 pm

    The longer I have thought about this, the more I like the idea of having the salaries codified in some manner, either by the City Personnel Commission – based on some sort of “Hay Plan” schedule, or by an independent body which would conduct a study to see what similarly responsible positions within government and the private sector are and recommend accordingly. Such a plan could include a COL increase based upon local figures, or not. It could be annual, based upon either the City’s budget year or the term of office calendar year, or it could be for the length of the term to which the public servant is elected. This might make it seem less political.

  3. I heartily agree that these raises should be tabled. In the military, we all get the same cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAS), regardless of rank. Certainly, there are established pay grades to distinguish the ranks. The government estimates that the military COLA for 2013 will be about 1.7 percent and the Social Security COLA will be about 1.8 percent. In 2012, we received a 3.6 percent COLA (after a two-year freeze.) It took a nanosecond for Tricare to swoop in and demand higher healthcare rates, based on our COLAS. Do the Boise mayor and council (and Ada County officials) really think they deserve raises up to 20 percent? Do they think they are better than our military personnel and retirees and their own staffers? I advocate legislative action to restrict salary increases for elected officials to 3-5 percent or equal to what non-elected government staffers receive. No retroactive, accumulated raises from leaner years. I have to wonder what happened to the pre-election professed democratic principles of living wages, pay equality, etc. Bite the bullet like the rest of us!

    KTA-from Meridian

  4. How did we get this bunch of professional liberals running our city/county? We voted for them!

    Have you noticed how much the fees for every city/county service has gone up the past few years in spite of the poor economy. Have you notice the huge expansion in Boise of people who cost but do not contribute and many never will? Joke is on us people.

  5. Sounds like ATeam88 knows what he is talking about. I wonder why the Team Dave doesn’t follow the state law?

    EDITOR NOTE–I have wondered the same thing over the years and even put my thoughts into legal briefs a time or two. The courts seemed to understand. 🙂

  6. These people are cave dwellers rewarding themselves with monetary gains for being the best shadow watchers in the state. It would be impossible to bring them to understand the world outside, the courts included. Only thing we can do is sit and wait to see how much farther into the “cave” these leaders take us.

  7. Kudos to the mayor for not taking a raise for 9 years. Few people would stay in their current job that long without some raise. To endure 9 years of no increases Mayor Bieter is either very devoted to his job, or incapable of getting of better job. Will leave it to other posters to opine on which it is.

  8. Bieter probably deserves a pay raise but the amount is hard to determine. Perhaps keeping him on par with what he got 9 years ago would be a place to start.

    The city council is another matter. I honestly feel like they work for very little in the first place and a pay raise of any amount is not going to “compensate” them for their time and effort if the job is done properly. I view these positions as labors of love and doing it right requires a lot of time and effort by people genuinely interested in their community. Pay for this job is inconsequential. They probably will not quit with or without a pay raise.

  9. Your letter was nice, invited them to share their thoughts with you. did anyone call you back? (I ask of course tongue in cheek, assuming no one called you back)

    Actually 2 responded. Politely, but not in favor of my proposal. It appears the ordinance will go through unopposed.

  10. We sure have lost control of our government! Now the question is how do we get it back?

  11. My Two Cents
    Nov 3, 2012, 11:21 am

    And the concept of one voting in one’s own raise is bizarre. In any normal situation, those in power recuse themselves when there is a conflict, or even perceived conflict of interest. One would not vote, for instance, on a relative’s pay request in a normal job situation. You’d abstain. Why are things set up at County and City levels so commissioners can vote their own raises, and so can city council and mayor? I wonder whether state and federal legislators vote their own pay raises, too…

  12. My Two Cents
    Nov 3, 2012, 11:24 am

    And by the way, to Flyhead, “labor of love”? If someone pays someone $20,000 a year to do something part-time, that is not a labor of love. It is work for which he/she is being compensated. The volunteer work I do, that is a labor of love. I do not think $20,000 a year is “inconsequential” except for the wealthy. Whether they are not being compensated enough is certainly a reasonable discussion to have. And whether they are committed to their community is also a reasonable belief. But I think you do a disservice to these reasonable discussions by brushing off their wages as something insignificant.

  13. good point, how many people in this city go hungry every night, and with this “insignificant” $20,000 in question, one must ask why not share the wealth and return some of this over spending to where it rightfully belongs, in the hands of those who need and deserve it, rather than just giving it away to those who all ready have enough.

  14. Ronin because we keep voting for the rich.

  15. Kareb Ragland
    Nov 5, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Property taxes can be raised if the value of one’s house goes up. Or, if the mill levy is raised. Schools can float bonds, sales taxes can be raised (for the benefit of schools mostly se we are told). Settlers Irrigation Dist. can raise what it charges for pressurized irrigtion. Settlers Irrigation Dist. is the only one I have had experience with.
    Face it folks we are all citizen atm machines here for the benefit of the officials we choose to vote for. Anyone have a good idea for a liar patch?

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: