ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.
I urge the Watson Township Board resolutely to abandon any further plans to hire an office manager for 10 to 12 hours a week at a salary of $10,000 a year.
The proposal is nothing short of a public relations disaster. While it’s true that local elected officials make themselves available to the public at the township hall for only four hours a week, hiring someone different for those extra 10 to 12 hours weekly seems to be an example of poor stewardship of public tax money.
If it’s true Watson government must be more accessible to the public, it should be done by the local elected officials themselves, all of whom this year have received double-digit salary increases, the public rightfully should say, “Show us you’re worth the extra money.”
Trustee Michelle Harris, whom I don’t often agree, pounced on this approach to the issue almost as soon as it was presented last Thursday night. She pointed out the generous raises and suggested the clerk, treasurer and supervisor earn their money.
Clerk Kelli Morris and Treasurer Stephanie Caulder last March were granted raises of 36% each, from $11,499.96 in annual wages to $15,650, an increase of $4,154. And Caulder has been treasurer only since December.
Supervisor Kevin Travis got a 10% hike in pay, from $11,499.96 to $12,650, an increase of $1,150.04.
Township trustees Jack Wood and Michelle Harris both picked up annual salary increases of 10 percent, from $3,960 annually to $4,620, a difference of $660. Both had been getting $150 per meeting, but now $165 per session.
Travis was correct in stating the local officials all have full-time jobs they must tend to, but if this causes a time or commitment problem, they shouldn’t seek election to the positions.
The public too often is critical of public sevants, suggesting they serve themselves at the expense of the people, which generally isn’t true. But giving yourselves raises and then hiring another official to meet with the public seems to only add fuel to that toxic fire.
Give it up. Find a way to become more personally available to the people. Don’t pass the buck to somebody else.