Scale Back Pay Raises in Cameron

Being a small-town mayor or municipal council member carries with it none of the power and prestige of similar positions in big cities. It is hard, often thankless work, nearly always undertaken because those involved were eager to serve their communities.

We have seen Ohio Valley mayors and council members in water-filled holes working alongside utility workers, grabbing paint brushes at town swimming pools, directing traffic at fire scenes, shoveling asphalt into potholes, scratching their heads over bookkeeping and engaged in a dozen other difficult tasks for the good of their communities.

Most are paid just pennies on the hour for their labors. Nearly all with whom we have been acquainted for the past few decades deserve better compensation as public servants.

But the desire to make their municipal paychecks more realistic reflections of their work and responsibilities must be balanced against the tiny budgets in their towns and cities.

So it is in Cameron, where City Council members a few weeks ago proposed to increase pay for both the mayor’s and council positions.

Cameron’s mayor is paid $500 a year. Council members receive $100 a year.

The proposal was to pay the mayor $12,000 annually, with council members receiving $2,400 a year. The raises would not go into effect immediately, but would affect winners of the next municipal election.

It is true the higher rates would more reasonably reflects the work Mayor Julie Beresford and council members do. As it was pointed out, the mayor’s job is a full-time one.

But this week, city council chambers were packed with Cameron residents concerned about the proposed raises. Several said they do not believe their small town can afford the increases.

Indeed, the amounts are far in excess of what other local towns of similar size pay.

Council members may address the matter again at their Jan. 6 meeting. If so, they should bear in mind other pressing needs in the municipal budget, and scale the raises back.

As some of those at this week’s meeting noted, pay raises may be in order – but not at the levels that had been proposed.