You probably did not know this (and that’s why we work hard at KlamathNews.net, to report the truth), but your dedicated Klamath County Commissioners received a 1% raise on July 1, 2015. This is only fitting. You see Klamath County Commissioners have not received raises since way back in 2010, and the time had come to correct this problem. We can’t have these public servants starving or falling behind. $68,000 a year is just not enough in 2015.
But wait, the two oldest tenured commissioners started serving in 2013. Both Commissioner Bellet and Mallams have only gone through two budgets without a raise (in other words they haven’t even finished their first term). Kelly Minty Morris has barely got her new curtains up in her office and she also got a raise.
The justification for the Commissioner salary increases can be seen in this presentation (PDF). The bottom line is that other Oregon counties of similar size are giving their commissioners raises, therefore Klamath should as well. That type of thinking is like your teenager demanding that you to buy them a car because their friend’s parents bought them a car. Government employees should only receive a raise if that person is doing a superior job compared to the previous year. Using that logic, Minty-Morris should not get one, because she has barely warmed her chair. Bellet and Mallams also should not get one either because they continue to support (or remain silent on) tax levy after tax levy each election.
Raises should be based on two things: merit and whether the county can afford the added expense. Sadly, this is not how your public servants think. Minty-Morris and her cohort Bellet voted themselves a 1% raise this year over last, because other counties are giving raises to their commissioners. Now 1% does not sound like much. But at $68,000 a year that’s an additional $680 for each commissioner. Again, some may say, “big deal”. Well it is, because it sets the bar at 1%. Next year they’ll try for 2%, or the year thereafter. Also raises compound over time, so 1% becomes an additional $680 each year from when the raise was issued. If 1% is not a big deal, why didn’t Minty-Morris and Bellet vote themselves a 1% decrease? It’s not a big deal right? Socialism never yields but always seeks to transfer wealth from your pocket to the government’s, even if it is just 1% a year. This raise is not a good sign that the Commissioners are serious about cutting government expenses.
During his four years in office, Commissioner Linthicum never received a raise. Linthicum is probably one of the few, if not the only, Klamath County Commissioner who can make such a claim in recent history. Linthicum knew his that budget cuts were necessary and voting a raise for himself, even 1%, was the wrong thing to do. (Note, most other public employees received raises during that time.) Now in 2015, a time when county government should still be trimming expenses, the Minty-Morris and Bellet have signaled they will not be left behind. They will take what is rightfully theirs to make sure they keep up with the Commissioners in other Oregon counties.
If Minty-Morris and Bellet can not refrain from the temptation of dipping into the pot for themselves, how can we trust them to say no to all the county departments that demand more and more each year?