On Tuesday, Boise City Council members voted themselves pay raises totaling 17.7 percent, and gave Mayor Dave Bieter 23.9 percent worth of raises.
As an editorial board, we were split on this one. I respect my colleagues’ arguments for the raises. The mayor and the council have important jobs — and if we want qualified and quality officeholders, we ought to be willing to compensate them fairly.
Ultimately, the amount of take-home pay doesn’t trouble me. When the raises fully go into effect in 2015, the final year of his four-year term, Bieter will be paid $113,059. Council members will collect $22,799, modest pay for what is a part-time job in name only.
But I go back to what we said earlier this year, when we criticized Ada County commissioners for granting Sheriff Gary Raney a 15 percent pay raise. The City Hall raises are simply too much, too soon.
I understand, and appreciate, that Bieter hasn’t received a raise in nine years on the job, and the council pay has been frozen since 2006. It was only right to hold the line during the recession, when many constituents were enduring pay cuts or layoffs. But these raises strike me as an attempt to go back and collect several years’ worth of cost-of-living raises. I doubt that’s happening much, in the private or public sectors.
The thing about big-dollar political raises is that they create an easy target. Witness this Facebook comment from Ada County Highway District commissioner Rebecca Arnold, who has, in an unofficial capacity, been blasting the raises for several days. “(Bieter) knew what the salary was when he chose to run for re-election. And what does he really do beyond ribbon cutting and glad-handing?”
Makes you wonder if the extra money is really worth the added headache.