05/27/10 — Foot in it, again? Council made a mistake not cutting its own expenses back

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Foot in it, again? Council made a mistake not cutting its own expenses back

OK, here's the good news: Three council members seem to get that if you are going to ask city residents to pay higher sewer and water rates and you are going to ask city departments to cut an additional amount of money out of already strapped budgets, you probably should not OK your own expense fund without any changes.

And that is especially true if you are going to keep your salaries intact.

The bad news is that despite urging from a dead-on-right Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen, four members of the council made sure their money stayed put.

Some were adamant about it -- one even saying that a council member should not be forced to give up reimbursement and should have the choice as to whether to give up the expense check.

OK. Well, we probably don't need to tell you how bad that looks.

Once again, some members of the City Council seem not to understand that when you are a leader, your first job is to lead. So, if you are asking city departments, including the fire and police departments, to cinch in their belts, you should have already cinched yours.

Otherwise, you look like a monarch rather than a representative of the people.

Being a City Council member is not an easy job -- we get it. But in an economic time when many people are facing lost wages and lost jobs, it behooves those who are in publicly funded positions to be very, very careful where taxpayer money goes.

Let's face it, anyone who is in elected office in city government for the paycheck needs to give up the seat and head on back home. This is not supposed to be a career. It is supposed to be public service.

So there should be nothing wrong with cutting back some of the perks -- and to take the salary, but cut back on the expenses so that perhaps the city does not have to cut a police officer or to scale back its downtown development efforts completely.

Those who spoke out against the cuts to the council's expenses should have thought a little bit longer about what such a move would say to the community that is watching to see how its leaders handle this challenge.

And those who were willing to cut back a bit -- just like everyone else -- should be commended. That is the kind of leadership that should be assumed from a city official.

Published in Editorials on May 27, 2010 10:29 AM