Editorial: Council should decide salary

The Oak Harbor City Council is befuddled over how to give itself a pay increase. Just do it, or complicate the process by appointing a salary commission to make the decision?

By a 5-2 majority, the council last week voted to reconsider a salary commission, an idea they had earlier rejected. Concern was expressed that if the council sets its own salary, the increase could not by law take effect until after the next election. This law wisely makes sure that elected officials can not raise their own salaries during the terms they are serving, but also results in staggered salary increases. Since council members are elected at different times, those first re-elected get raises before those who are up for re-election later.

It was the thought of council members earning different salaries that prompted reconsideration of a salary commission. A commission of citizens could provide an increase that would apply to all council members simultaneously.

Unfortunately, a salary commission would add another, unneeded layer of government that would muddy the salary waters. If council members feel they deserve a raise, they should simply vote on it. The basic proposal on the table is a $45 per month increase, to $495, with a 3 percent cost of living increase each year for the next four years.

The proposal seems reasonable, as council members are busier than ever and they deserve some modest compensation for their time. Just spare the community another committee by taking an up-or-down vote on this proposal.

As for the staggered nature of the increase, who cares? Life isn’t always fair and it’s OK for some council members to be making $495 a month while others are making $450.

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