It should’ve been clear last year that the county couldn’t afford to give county council members a 166% pay increase plus full benefits and that a longer phase-in period was needed. A budget is an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. Since those categories are reviewed every year, barring unexpected upsets (like with the Mosquito Abatement budget), it should be easy to not go into a deficit.
The council justification for their pay increases arrived from comparing their pay to Morgan County Council rates of pay. Why? What difference does it make they made less than some other council's pay rate? They knew what the pay was when they ran for election. Most people on both councils have other jobs or businesses; being an elected official usually isn’t the main source of income. Just like anyone else looking for work, if the wage wasn’t attractive, why apply? Because of “wanting to make a difference?” Caring about the community? Influence? Or Is it only about money now?
Go back and read the Moab Sun News edition from Oct. 18, 2018, regarding the council raise. Comparing Morgan County to Grand County based on population only glosses over the fact that Morgan County has the largest private-sector land-ownership in the state—meaning a huge property tax base. Morgan County is also part of the Ogden-Clearfield Metropolitan Statistical Area and the SLC-Provo-Orem area, meaning that wages and data reflect what those other larger towns are paying and drawing revenue from.
In the Moab Sun News story “Grand County Council members raise their pay” (pub. Jan. 3, 2019), a councilmember claimed that the hefty increase was budgeted for. Really? Then why the deficit?
Department heads predicted low morale if the cost of living increase doesn’t pass. Understandable. But low morale also comes from watching our leaders get more than their fair share. Who in the private sector (or even our government workers who keep the city and county going) has ever gotten such a hefty raise? Low morale comes from seeing new hires paid more than you have after twenty years of loyalty. It comes from arrogant managers coming in and disrespecting your knowledge.
This isn’t the first time we’ve needed a tax increase, but Mr. Baird is quoted as saying that if the budget is approved property tax revenue could increase up to 54.03% above last year. Do we have a deficit equaling a need for a 54% increase?
Give workers their raises, cut the council pay, forget any more funding for General Planning. I think that we already know the plan. It’s outlined clearly in the Moab Area Travel Council’s video “Moab Sustainability - The Little Community Leading the Way,” viewable at www.facebook.com/discovermoab/videos/577869529649418
Leading the way? Yeah, way beyond our means. There’s nothing sustainable about continuing to promote millions of people to come here at a detriment to residents.