Something fascinating happened during the February Bellevue Council Meeting this past Tuesday and I’m eager to tell you about it. In one glorious moment, council unanimously agreed on a controversial new ordinance.
Well, at least on paper it appears like we unanimously agreed on a controversial ordinance.
The non-union wage ordinance which has been a bone of contention with the 2016 Council literally since the day we took office (it was first voted down on reorganization day almost two months ago) came up for yet another final vote of adoption. Fascinatingly council unanimously voted the measure down. On paper it appears everyone on council agrees. However, what actually happened couldn’t be further from the truth.
Prior to taking the vote individual members of council delineated themselves from one another into basically two major camps – the “I won’t approve spending another dime of taxpayer money without documented justification” camp and the “I’m not happy because I want to spend even more money than is being proposed” camp. Both camps were displeased with the ordinance and both voted it down.
There was literally no one in between.
The ordinance at hand would have increased non-union salaries to the tune of $35,000 for the 2016 calendar year. There have been no performance reviews justifying even a single raise. We don’t even have official job descriptions by which to measure many of our employees’ performances. In the private sector, most employers aren’t going to fork over extra cash in employee paychecks unless it’s documented that the increase has been earned and deserved. Council has nothing official by which to measure if borough employees deserve the proposed raises. To be fair, this isn’t a slight against our employees. Many of our borough employees are wonderful, selfless, and hard-working people. This is, however, a criticism of how Bellevue’s administrative office is being managed. If the borough manager desires for his employees to earn more, he needs to manage them more effectively. If our borough employees desire to earn more, they’d be wise to demand more effective management from their supervisor.
It is my conviction that Bellevue taxpayers are strapped for cash. We are taxed far more than any of our neighboring communities and we have serious infrastructure issues to deal with. We have roads caving in, walls crumbling down, endless water flow problems, and seriously dilapidated sewer lines just to name a few. I’m not against spending taxpayer money. I’m not against paying competitive wages for worthwhile employees. However, I am against just throwing money at something because he said or she said, “They deserve it” or “We need this.” I want to see documentation. I want to see results. I want to see a return on investment. I want to see the resources at our disposal used in the best possible way so that our community may thrive in the future without the constant inability to fix what is broken and the constant threat of looming tax increases.
While some may live in a fantasy land expecting Bellevue residents to just accept an unjustified dramatic increase in the cost of services, I will continue to advocate for our taxpayers. I will demand wisdom with regard to the finite resources at our disposal. I will demand better for our borough.