The Pocatello City Council has some big decisions to make in the near future.
This month the council will vote on the city’s proposed budget, a spending plan that at present gives the council a nearly 50 percent annual pay hike and provides Mayor Brian Blad with a 13 percent annual salary increase.
And at a council meeting set for 6 p.m. Thursday (tonight) at Pocatello City Hall, the council will hear School District 25’s appeal of the Historic Preservation Commission’s rejection of the second phase of the Pocatello High School renovation project.
The public reaction to the proposed pay raises for the council and mayor has been very negative, and that’s probably putting it politely. And the council hasn’t done itself any favors in trying to prove these raises are necessary or deserved.
For example, the statements by some council members that the massive pay hikes are needed to ensure that qualified candidates run for City Council in the future are beyond pathetic.
Pocatello’s police officers are in fact underpaid compared to their peers elsewhere in the state and they’re only receiving a measly 5 percent pay hike for next year under the proposed city budget.
The Pocatello Police Department is currently losing veteran officers because of this pay disparity, which will have a direct impact on public safety.
If anyone deserves a massive pay hike under the proposed city budget, Pocatello’s police officers are the obvious candidates.
But inexplicably the City Council is sticking to its guns that it deserves a pay hike unlike anything that any of its constituents will likely ever receive.
We would encourage city residents to attend the 6 p.m. Thursday City Council meeting at City Hall to let the council and mayor know what the public’s opinion is of these proposed salary increases.
Residents should also attend the meeting because the council is going to decide on School District 25’s appeal of the Historic Preservation Commission’s rejection of the next phase of the Pocatello High School remodeling project.
We’ve said previously that the School District has been sneaky in the way it’s tried to ram this project through the approval process and nothing we’ve seen or heard has changed our point of view in the month since the Historic Preservation Commission correctly rejected the district’s plans.
The Historic Preservation Commission’s members rejected the second phase of the Pocatello High project because they felt the district’s plans weren’t in agreement with the school’s historic architecture, not to mention the district didn’t even have a floor plan of the project to present to the commission.
Our issue with the district’s plans is more based on the strange lack of transparency regarding the renovation of a local landmark.
The City Council’s decision on the district’s appeal should be easy. Perhaps such a rejection will inspire School District officials to properly vet the project with the community.
In the end that will result in a better Pocatello High School renovation project and will improve people’s view of the School District.
Likewise, the removal of the City Council’s poorly conceived pay hikes from the proposed city budget will show that the council is not oblivious to public opinion.
That too should be an easy decision for the council.
In any case, August should be a very telling month regarding those we’ve elected to lead our city.
Pocatello will definitely be watching.