June 12, 2013

Let Proposed Council Salary Increases Apply To New Members, Not Those Currently In Office

To the Editor:

Our elected officials typically thank the electorate for electing them. They say it is an honor and a privilege to serve. How true. Few of the rest of us have the privilege of proposing to award ourselves a 33 percent salary increase only months after cutting staff, and while still discussing other staff reductions.

I applaud Patrick Simon for arguing against the increase; as he said, our council members knew what the salaries would be when they ran for office, and they knew that a reduction in the cost of their salaries was among the promises of consolidation. Yet they say, sanctimoniously, that they don’t want the money for themselves, but merely so others can serve? In that case, let the salary increases apply to their successors, not to those in office now!

In fact, if, as Mr. Bruschi suggested, council members’ salaries should be thought of as stipends to cover costs incurred in the course of their public duties, why not make that explicit? Eliminate the council members’ salaries altogether, and replace them with a system of formal reimbursement for expenses (with some very clear policies defining eligible expenses). Since reimbursements would not be subject to payroll taxes, the current budget of $60,000 would go farther. We might even save money. We would certainly weed out those who value their salaries over keeping their promises to the electorate.

Beverly Wilson

Terhune Road