City Managers Should Thank Struggling Taxpayers for Their Wage Increases

by lewwaters

That our national economy remains strained in this “Great Recession” is evident almost everywhere we look. Private sector jobs remain hard to find and we see median wages falling or remaining low.

According to a chart released by Washington State, Clark County’s median wage dropped over $3,000 a year between 2008 and 2009. 2010 showed an estimated increase in median wages in the county of a paltry $200 per year with a further estimate for 2011 of just $400 for the year, hoping to see a median wage of $54,951, still $3,000 below what was seen in 2008.

Many in the county, who are lucky enough to still have a job, have seen no wage increase at all and some have actually seen a significant drop in wages while at the same time we see taxes, rates and fees increasing across the board from city and county government.

However, not all of us have to sacrifice during these dire economic times. The Columbian tells us in November, “131 OPEIU members will get a 1.5 percent raise next year and another in 2013, followed by a 2 percent wage increase in 2014” as the city and the union reached their contract agreement. A small increase, but an increase just the same.

Earlier we saw settlements in contract disputes that also granted slight increases to city public union workers with an agreement for many to begin paying for a small portion of their health insurance premiums.

Last December taxpayers expressed their opposition to our 3 county commissioners receiving a wage increase that they wisely chose not to accept.

With such slight increases, while median income remains $3,000 lower throughout the county, little wonder even the Columbian questioned city manager Eric Holmes receiving nearly double a wage increase as did other city employees who avoided being laid off during this recession.

The slight outrage they expressed last week seems to be gone today as they report City managers’ pay rises across county, informing readers, “Four out of five [city managers] in Camas, Washougal, B.G., Vancouver, will receive increases in 2012.”

Chart from the Columbian

As seen in the chart above, appointed city managers are doing quite well in this recession while many middle class taxpayers continue unemployed, underemployed or with stagnant wages. Each city manager earns at least twice the current median income of taxpayers in the county.

The Columbian quotes Mark Stephan, a political science professor at Washington State University Vancouver, “Awarding pay raises to public leaders is important because it lessens the chance of a more affluent city or private company poaching them and, symbolically, makes the employees feel more appreciated.”

Stephan also rightly notes struggling middle class taxpayers will not receive the news of appointed city employees receiving these increases very well.

How nice to also read these wage increases do not include cost of living allowances that remain frozen “in order to save money.”

It cannot be forgotten that the governor wishes to increase the sales tax and public unions and members of the Democrat controlled legislature have filed a lawsuit against citizen initiatives to keep a high threshold for them to impose new taxes on us.

Locally, we continue to see our voices ignored as supporters of C-Tran, who is also giving wage increases to public union members engage in fearmongering to win a sales tax increase and working on yet another sales tax increase in 2012.

The CRC continues to suck up tax dollars with little accountability and working to keep taxpayers from voting on how we may want the project to go.

A searchable online database reveals over 250 public salaries in Clark County in excess of $100,000. Of the 661 salaries listed, over 600 are above the median income in Clark County.

We should also remember that shortly after lying his way into the mayor’s seat, Tim ‘the liar’ Leavitt floated the notion of making the job full time, presumably also with a six-figure salary while bombastic council member, Jeanne ‘gavel down’ Harris supported making city council positions full time that I have to believe would carry generous salaries.

It matters not whether or not these city managers deserve wage increases. Struggling middle class workers also deserve much, but we are not receiving increases, other than in what we must pay out in taxes, rates and fees.

Considering too that elected federal officials also receive $174,000 in base wage, plus extremely generous benefits that we struggling middle class taxpayers fund, it appears that being a public “servant” pays much better than those they allegedly serve receive.

It would seem the main incentive any of them have is devising ways to keep us paying for their lifestyles.

I’d say how nice it would be to at least receive a nice Thank You card from our public servants, but that too would probably come out of our pockets.

6 Comments to “City Managers Should Thank Struggling Taxpayers for Their Wage Increases”

  1. Lew,

    You are much too kind in your analysis of our local pocket pickers.

    I found the article in today Fish Wrapper most interesting and insulting. The first thought that came to me as I read the Glaring Front Page headlines:

    “City Managers’ Pay Up Across County” was:

    The Vancouver City Council and its Mentors at Identity Clark County must have taken the Columbian Editorial Board to the Woodshed.

    For a moment, after reading at least two Columbian editorials blasting the Vancouver City Council for increasing the pay and benefits for just a “Very Good City Manager”, during difficult economic times being experienced by the taxpayers; I thought maybe the Fish Wrapper had developed some “guts”. False Alarm.

    As for the Columbian’s University Professor Attempting to justify the City’s and Fish Wrapper’s actions, he knows not what he speaks. Why! Because of his words “because some more affluent city or company might steal them, or words to that effect. Those words lead me to conclude he must be a liberal. I say this because his words tell me that his knowledge of the real job market place is lacking. There is no doubt in my military mind that there are dozens of qualified administrators out there that would gladly take the job for less money. No one, repeat No one is indespensable.

    It is my opinion that Hefty paid raises won’t get you good work or loyalty, Take a walk down memory lane and take a look at the last Vancouver City Manager and Economic Development Manager.

    On their respective watches approximately one million dollar taxpayer dollars was spent on upgrading SEH’s wet lands. The then City Manager left the city and went to work for SEH. On the Economic Development Managers watch Killiam Pacific was the receipient of a couple of good sweetheart deals. The Monterey Hotel, the Highway 14 shopping mall and the new Library. The past City of Vancouver Economic Development Manage is now Killiam Pacific’s Economic Development Manager for Killiam Pacific. Co-Incidence? Could be but my opinion says no.

    The professor’s “we want them to be appreciated excuse” was used about two years ago by Port Commissioners when they not only increased the wages of port employees, they added their dependents to their health care plans.

    His excuse like so many other lies told to an unsuspecting public, is so old it has some of the same threatening words that often come out the mouths of “OTHERS SITTING IN THEIR CUSHIONED SEATS OF AUTHORITY”

    One of the most often threatened words are: “if you don’t allow us to increase taxes we are going to have to cut police and fire services”.

    Isn’t it is time that all salaries paid with taxpayer dollars are Capped. It works for those serving in our military and they are risking their lives not just hurt feeling.

    And so it goes

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  2. Oh come on Lew…you spoil sport! Don’tcha know that all they have to raise is our sewer, gas, electric, and garbage rates in order to pay Timmy’s top dogs?!?

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  3. I guess these folks don’t know or care that, according to Yahoo “Financially Fit,” Vancouver is fifth in the nation as the city with the most lost jobs, and with the most workers giving up and/or leaving the area:

    5. Vancouver, Washington
    > Employed pct. decrease: 2.21%
    > Total employed decrease: 1,643
    > Workforce: 79,958
    > Unemployment rate: 9.2%

    “Between November 2010 and October 2011, the Vancouver, Wash., area lost 1,643 jobs, a 2.21% decrease. Surprisingly, despite the substantial loss in jobs, the actual unemployment rate has dropped dramatically. This is due to a major decrease in the size of the labor force, or employable people who are in the area and are looking for jobs.”

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  4. Our so-called “Representatives” are no longer accountable to the voters. Our technology has outgrown the “need” for “Representative Government” and it’s high time to devise a way through the initiative process for the voters to take back the power from these “ruling class” fat cats who only govern with their own interests in mind.

    America will have to overcome these petty despot Elitist bastards or the nation will be torn apart with a Revolution. It’s just that simple.

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  5. Deceit is Tim Leavitt’s true first name and the council, at least as it has been throughout the year, has brought us so many communist agenda ordinances that no one should be surprised by the government setting themselves up to be in a higher class group of their own.
    People need to start showing up and writing and e-mailing the city hall in droves. Make it your New Year resolution to save your nation and return it to freedom.

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  6. Carolyn, what happens if the voters and the people in Vancouver simply are numbed and don’t care??

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