Pocatello City Councilman Jim Johnston has posed the argument that the 13 percent raise proposed for Mayor Brian Blad (on top of a 6 percent raise just 18 months ago) is justified because the mayor manages a large and diverse group of employees. Hardly an adequate basis for granting a raise.
An equally important consideration is how effectively the leader manages and how equitably the employees are treated.
Our police and fire departments are having difficulty attracting employees due to an uncompetitive salary schedule. At the same time that the council is scheduled for a 48 percent raise and the mayor for 13 percent, the city is offering the police and fire employees up to 2.5 percent.
The city has brought in a high-priced attorney from Boise as their “hired gun” to negotiate with those employees. That is not the best use of the city’s limited resources.
When one of the police members pointed out that their compensation was much lower than many other cities, the city’s attorney stated, well, it was your choice to work in Pocatello and make less money. That statement applies equally to the mayor and council members, each of whom campaigned for their positions.
A widely used criterion in determining executive compensation is to gauge how well the stockholders in an enterprise are faring. In this case the stockholders are the taxpaying citizens who fund the salaries and benefits of the mayor, council and city employees, and they are not faring all that well.
The citizens of Pocatello are burdened by the highest taxes in the state relative to comparable cities. At the same time their family incomes are lower than the family incomes in those comparable cities.
An additional burden on the citizens will be the $20 million judgment rendered by the Idaho Supreme Court against the city for the illegal 2006 scheme promulgated by the Mayor Roger Chase administration and City Council.
Before contemplating any further executive raises let’s concentrate on making the taxpaying citizens of Pocatello better off.