It's unlikely Rebecca Arnold and Boise City Hall's elected officials will be getting together for a cup of holiday cheer any time soon.
On Tuesday — before the council approved pay raises for Mayor Dave Bieter and themselves and raised sewer fees — Arnold fired off a pointed email to City Hall. Arnold is an Ada County Highway District commissioner, re-elected earlier this month, although she says she was writing on her own behalf.
Here's an excerpt: "I am well aware of the jobs that you perform and my opinion is that you are already compensated fairly for the work that you do. You were all well aware of the salaries when you ran for office and if you are not happy with the salaries, please resign and go back to work in the private sector. Approving a 20% increase for yourselves would be an exhibition of unprecedented arrogance."
The raises will go into effect in two phases, in 2014 and 2015. By 2015, Bieter's pay would reach $113,059, up from the current $91,229. Council pay would reach $22,799, up from the current $19,375. City leaders point out that Bieter hasn't received a raise since taking office in 2004, while the council pay hasn't increased since 2006.
Sewer fee increases — a 70-cent-per-month increase for single-family homes, and a $12 one-time fee on new accounts — are designed to reduce phosphorous emissions from the city's wastewater plant. The city is facing more stringent Environmental Protection Agency standards on phosphorous emissions.
Here's Arnold's email to Bieter and the council, send prior to Tuesday's votes:
I realize that providing input to this body represents an exercise in futility as you seem to do whatever you want anyway. However, please read this email into the record at today's Boise City Council meeting. I am a Boise resident and have been for more than 25 years. I do not recall ever having a council in place that has consistently raised taxes and fees as this one has. You have raised property taxes every year despite the recession (although you did, interestingly, only raise the property taxes half of the allowable amount during the last council election year) and it seems you have never seen a fee that you felt didn't need to be increased. Enough is enough!!
I am opposed to any increases in the sewer fees or any other Boise City fees. Boise residents just cannot afford any more increases. ACHD has kept the amount of property taxes that goes to ACHD at the same level for the last 4 years and we recently decreased impact fees. Perhaps you might consider following that example and try tightening your belts instead of continually raising taxes and fees (eliminating the out-of-state boondoggle trips would be a good place to start!).
I am also adamantly opposed to raising the salaries of the Mayor and Council. Absolutely ridiculous! I am well aware of the jobs that you perform and my opinion is that you are already compensated fairly for the work that you do. You were all well aware of the salaries when you ran for office and if you are not happy with the salaries, please resign and go back to work in the private sector. Approving a 20% increase for yourselves would be an exhibition of unprecedented arrogance.
I also question placing these items on the agenda for a day meeting when probably most of your constituents would be unable to attend. A night meeting would have been more appropriate to afford the public an opportunity to provide input.