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Time may not be right for Columbiana raises

December 11, 2009
Morning Journal News

The city of Columbiana is fortunate that it can borrow from itself when facing a deficit.

City Council agreed to authorize borrowing $200,000 from the electric fund to supplement the general fund. The general fund had been facing a $175,000 deficit. Borrowing from the more stable electric fund is a prudent way for the city to balance its finances without having to take on the expense of obtaining a conventional loan to cover the shortfall.

It's not prudent, however, for city officials to consider wage increases at this time. Also at Tuesday's meeting, the four council member present voted down first readings of several ordinances granting raises for city employees. The ordinance will go on to second and final reading before being defeated or passed.

Councilman Jim King, who voted against the measures, said he could not understand why council was voting on the raises before discussing the budget.

"We should find out if our budget is balanced before we give raises," King wisely noted. We can't help wondering why a town that needs to borrow money, even if it is borrowing from itself, to balance the budget would even consider raises at this time. Especially since the wage increases were being proposed for supervisory and non-union positions. It's not as if the increases were part of a collective bargaining agreement.

At the same meeting it was suggested that council consider seeking levies to help fund the fire and parks departments.

Times are tough and everyone is cutting back. It sounds silly to think about asking taxpayers to ante up more funding for departments whose employees were being considered for a pay increase at the same meeting.

This may be the season for giving, but with the current economic situation, taxpayers are not likely to feel generous enough to fund raises right now.



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