Giving raises to all leaves questions

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nearly lost in this week’s watching and waiting for Hurricane Isaac to arrive was another important “event” in the forecast, one with a long-lasting impact to Adams County’s finances.

County supervisors announced this week plans to pass a budget that offers flat, across-the-board pay increases to most county employees.

Funds for the raises, supervisors said, are available thanks to the retirement of debt.

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Supervisors are quick to suggest they haven’t raised their own tax millage — though the school district has — but suggesting that ignores the fact that overall property assessments have gone up in the last three years so the same millage rate costs a taxpayer more money.

Some three years after voters overwhelmingly supported the idea of building a new recreation complex, the plans are still idle.

Instead, rather than either squirrelling away debt retirement savings to fund a recreation complex or paying down other existing debt — such as the millions the county owes for its haphazardly planned road paving — the county will dole out tax money for pay raises.

We don’t doubt that some county employees may need a pay increase, but do all of them?

Besides raises based solely on a flat percentage increase of earnings are not fair to all employees, particularly the ones who are among the lowest paid. If supervisors feel pay levels are out of step, wouldn’t it be a smarter use of taxpayer dollars to offer more to those who earn less?

We hope supervisors will — perhaps at the urging of concerned citizens — reconsider the logic of their budget plan and instead of focusing on the quick, politically popular route, seek to invest long-term in areas voters have high interest in — lower taxes, better roads and a modern recreation facility.