2018-06-14 / Letters to the Editor

Town must curb salary increases

To the editor:

At the annual financial town meeting, I offered my thoughts on the government portion of the town budget concerning on the salary increases for top-level town personnel, saying they were excessive.

I was informed by Town Councilor Mary Meagher that I compared the wrong budget columns and represented two years of government spending as one year. For this, I apologize and regret any confusion caused or felt.

After the meeting, I revisited the budget numbers in the context suggested by Meagher and still was fraught with concern. A $10,000-plus salary increase, for example, in two years (instead of the one year I originally thought) is still a significant jump. In this decade, average salaries for most Americans remain flat or represent a hairline increase at best.

Moreover, our island has only one short summer season each year for generating tourist, visitor and business revenue toward town services. The remaining months are lean. Unlike other municipalities, here our one-season economy places a greater burden on the taxpayer.

My prayer is any future town government budget will bear the markings of a community that is judicious and sparing in its spending. If we believe huge leaps in spending are warranted, let us apply those toward programs, services and supplies for those in need, for the safety of our children, for the preservation of our environmental assets and especially in support of our seniors.

I hope to never again see town employee salary increases for those at the top ranging from $4,000 to more than $10,000 for a two-year period. This is not sustainable and mightily hurts those struggling with property taxes and the invariable municipal rate and fee increases that are now a sobering staple of island life.

We will all “enjoy” a 2.2 percent tax rate increase this coming year. Let’s make this increase the last one. If we keep salaries in check, I believe this will be achievable for many years to come.

Valerie Southern
Clinton Avenue

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