Proposed city wage study looks like bad buy

The city Budget Committee in Sweet Home last week approved a 2007-08 budget that included up to about $60,000 to study how city workers’ salaries match up internally and to comparable communities across the state.

City Manager Craig Martin, in particular, has said he’s concerned that pay be equitable within the city, across classifications.

It’s pretty clear that there must be more to this than meets the eye, but in a city where roads are in dire need of repair, where sewers leak, where many citizens think there are not enough police officers, and where there always seems to be a need for cash, we wonder what substantive benefit could possibly result from spending this money.

Sweet Home is crawling out of economic hard times. Even if this study were to determine that Sweet Home employees were paid less than people in comparable jobs elsewhere, what’s the next step? To put more road and sewer repairs on the back burner so money could be shuttled to boost paychecks?

As residents and taxpayers, we do value the experience and expertise many of our city employees provide.

But there’s one proviso: We can only afford to pay them so much. If money is of such extreme importance, there may be plenty of other cities where they could make more. Many residents like it here and so do many city employees. Sometimes there’s more to life than money and quality of life for many is an acceptable tradeoff.

We want to pay our city employees as much as we can as they enjoy the quality of life in living and working here.

Civic employees’ wages are a public record in every city in the state. If city employees are so concerned that they are underpaid, let them do a little homework and bring some of those public records to city leaders.

An employee’s value is really set by the external labor market. That information is easily accessible and shouldn’t cost the city $60,000 to collect.