Letter: Are we really serious about being a Public Servant? Or are we applying for a part time job?

Published 8:15 am Saturday, December 15, 2018

I read in Wednesday’s paper that the Austin City Council is to vote on a salary increase for themselves and the mayor. Individuals who are council people would see their salaries go from $6,600 to $9,300. Council member at large would be increased from $7,800 to $10,800. That represents nearly a 40 percent increase for each council member.

I always considered individuals elected to be council people to be public servants.  They ran for office to do right by people in their community and represent them at the table when it came to ensuring that the city ran well and was efficient in spending tax payer dollars.  They would ensure that the elderly received services, snow was removed after a storm and ensured that the Fire Department and Police Department received the resources needed to ensure the safety of the residents.  It implies we as council people are putting ourselves, voluntarily, into a role that puts the community first and not being driven by how much money we receive each month in a payroll check.  Perhaps, I am being naive.

I recall that the average Council person spends approximately 15 hours a month on Council business.  This implies that on average a council person will earn approximately $50 per hour for each hour worked.  Some have offered the argument that a higher amount of remuneration will increase both the quality of candidate and the number of individuals running for office.  It has been my experience that we have always had individuals who were very good and dedicated public servants and represented their constituents extremely well.  Money was never a consideration as to whether they would run for office.  It was not a job but a calling.

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Roger Boughton