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Community Comment

Thu., Sept. 23, 2010, 6:34 a.m.

Payroll cuts at City Hall…

Good morning, Netizens...

I love it! Actually I'm revulsed by the news from the hallowed halls of City Hall, because the news is simply that bad! According to Queen Mary, officials are preparing to give 120 city employees pink slips next week, with more than half of those being given the boot in the police and fire departments. While that news is still settling uneasily on the voters' ears, the news that Queen Mary is not delivering with vapid smiles for all is that in contrast to this bad news, some city employees are getting pretty wild pay increases, some of them in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, are based on either pre-negotiated labor contracts or civil service step increases.


One example that rankles me is after receiving a 10.9-percent wage hike in 2009 this year the city's finance director is picking up another 9.6-percent increase to bring his salary up to $108,000. Not even our Mayor, Queen Mary Verner makes that kind of money, because her salary is capped at $100,000. Perhaps given my predictable distrust and dislike for our city attorneys, it rankles me further that five assistant city attorneys received 32-percent pay raises last year and 14-percent pay raises this year, putting their individual annual salaries well above $100,000 ostensibly designed to keep the city’s lawyers from being lured away by private law firms. Aw gee, folks, we cannot have the barrister class of public employees being lured into private service, now can we?

Now let's take a brief look at some of the damage. If all the cutbacks take effect the first of the month as planned, 45 police jobs and 28 fire fighters are on the block. Unfortunately, no one in City Hall named any other departments losing employees, but I assume they are there.

On top of the layoffs there’s talk of either closing a fire station within the city or doing rolling firehouse brown outs where stations are periodically closed, according to that bastion of upbeat news, Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. Good news abounds.

Who are you going to complain to? You might try the Mayor's office, or perhaps your favorite City Council person. Ask the abrupt question is why the mayor didn’t – or wasn’t able to – make those wage freezes a reality before the current budget crisis that’s forcing more than a hundred city employees out of their jobs.

Ye Gods! The City is falling into mayhem.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.