The Jonesboro Sun on city pay hikes:
Christmas came early this year for Jonesboro police officers.
Apparently not wanting to disappoint firefighters and other city employees, Santa Claus is making a return trip with his bag of goodies to dole out more obscene raises to those city employees who woke up disappointed to find the same number on their paychecks.
Talk about visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads.
If only that were true, that the jolly old elf is responsible for these raises.
Look no further than your city council members. You can thank them.
However, a quick glance in the mirror will tell you who’s going to pay for them.
Like a snowball rolling down a mountainside, it grows and picks up speed as it heads pell-mell down the mountain toward town.
Soon it will take an avalanche of tax dollars committed for decades to make good on these over-the-top pay hikes — $646,000-plus per year for police already approved, and $805,000-plus per year proposed for firefighters and $653,000-plus per year proposed for the city’s remaining employees.
And let’s not forget the $1.07 million in raises city employees already received earlier this year. It’s a twofer. That’s $3.174 million-plus in raises per year — forever.
That doesn’t include any cost-of-living raises you can bet will come in future years.
So what happens when the city runs out of reserve funds to pay for these hefty pay hikes?
Stupid question, huh?
Well, of course, they’ll come begging the voters for tax increases. After all, they’ll tell you, it’s a matter of public safety. You don’t want to lie awake at night worrying about burglars, no one to respond if your house catches fire, rampant crime in the streets. Now, do you? We can already see them standing on the street corners, holding their signs.
Imagine, getting a $13,000 annual raise? Makes taxpayers want to reach for a bottle of Pepto Bismol — or, maybe, shots of tequila. Pick your poison. Either way, it’s coming out of your wallets.
Be sure of one thing: When city officials ask taxpayers in the very near future to pass a tax increase to maintain these outrageous pay hikes, voters likely will send a strong message.
Been there, done that. Then the smoke cleared.
These raises will not only eat up reserve funds — money set aside for capital improvements and natural disasters — they will also eat up quality of life additions to the city as well as city jobs.
You can’t pass out raises of this magnitude without becoming leaner and meaner, and that means one of two things: job cuts or tax hikes.
It’s that simple.
Voters might want to think long and hard about that on Nov. 8 when they head to the polls to decide who’ll make these types of decisions in the next four years.