I would like to address the proposed pay raises for the city of Pocatello mayor and City Council members. I am baffled as to why our mayor feels his salary of $81,186 is not sufficient to oversee the city works of Pocatello that numbers less than 56,000 citizens.
If this proposed raise is passed, this will bring his base salary to over $91,000 annually. This will put his pay just behind the mayor of Boise, whose salary is just under $110,000 annually, managing the works of a population of over 223,000 people.
I understand that as mayor, Mr. Blad is working full-time hours, but along with this salary, he also receives FULL medical and retirement benefits paid for by the citizens of Pocatello.
As for the City Council members, the proposed wage increase for them will take them close to $15,000 a year in salary, plus FULL medical and retirement benefits paid by the citizens of Pocatello.
The justification from the mayor is that “We are asking so much of our council members” by attending 165+ meetings a year. Even if our council members are required to attend 200 meetings per year, with the average meeting lasting 3 hours, this only averages out to 11.5 hours a week.
How is this “asking so much” of our council members? These are not even standard part-time hours. How many people do you know who work less than part-time and receive full benefits? Between their current salary and cost of benefits, our council members make more than their constituents that work full-time hours at minimum wage.
Other comments made during the budget meeting on June 13 were that these raises “are not for us, but future members” and “without these raises, we will not get younger people running for office.” I disagree with these statements. Those who run for office at the city level run because they honestly believe they can make life better for the citizens of the city they live in, not to make a salary they could live off of.
The proposed increase for the mayor sits at 13 percent, with the Council Member increase at nearly 49 percent. The last numbers I have seen or read about for other city employees are: Fire Department scheduled to receive a 1.7 pay increase. And at this time, what is on the table for the Police Department is 2.6 percent. I have not seen the percentage offered up for the rest of our city workers.
If a salary increase for both the mayor and City Council is warranted, their pay increase should not exceed the same percentage as what is being proposed for all other workers employed by the city. To the citizens of Pocatello, there are no more scheduled budget meetings on the calendar, the June 20 City Council meeting was canceled; the next City Council meeting scheduled is July 18, if it is not canceled.
The proposed budget will be posted prior to this meeting with no more input or debate. The public hearing for the budget is scheduled for Aug. 1; this is your only opportunity to voice your opinion or opposition on any of the budgeted items.
If the timing for voting to approve the budget follows last year’s schedule, this will happen at the Aug. 15 City Council meeting. Please note that there is only one (1) City Council meeting on the calendar for BOTH July and August instead of the usual two (2).
I urge the citizens of Pocatello to stand up to our mayor and council members and let them know that the proposed raises for them are not warranted when there are so many other issues to be dealt with in our city.
I also hope that council members Rick Cheatum and Roger Bray continue to voice their opposition to this issue and show it by their votes when the time comes.