Tuesday, November 30, 2010

EDITORIAL >>Pulaski County too generous

These Tea Party people sometimes have a good point. The partiers planned to storm the Pulaski County Quorum Court meeting last week to protest a plan to give county workers, including the Quorum Court members themselves and other elected officials, a 4 percent pay raise.

Ordinarily, we should all rejoice when any group of workers gets a raise. Ordinarily. Lord knows county workers, with perhaps a few exceptions, are not overpaid.

But a 4 percent raise for public employees in this autumn of distress? Tens of thousands of people in our own area are unemployed, many of them for longer than two years, and incomes have been stagnant for years for everyone but those at the top.

After all, county workers got a 4 percent raise and a 4 percent bonus last year and a 5 percent raise the previous year. Few employee groups in either the public or private sector have thrived so well in this dismal economy. We doubt that other public agencies or the private sector are hiring away sheriff’s deputies and other trained county workers with premium salaries.

The county can do it because property tax collections have continued in abundance through the recession and there is money in the treasury to do it. But the county officials ought to understand the sensibilities of people who paid those taxes and who aren’t having it so good. Besides, there are desperate needs for those funds. Save them for jail beds.

We may miss our guess, but we expect voters will remember the county’s generosity to itself when it asks them to approve a sales tax to expand the jail and staffing.