Originally created 07/03/97

Hike only the deserving

How much more should a city job be worth?

A four-month salary study of Augusta employees indicates they're paid less than the old county employees for doing similar work. As this editorial is being written, the Augusta Commission is wrestling into late hours on how to award raises to remedy this disparity. It's No. 48 on a 55-item agenda.

Regardless of what commissioners decide, the best route is to ultimately let department heads decide who gets raises instead of awarding them across the board.

If department heads bestow the increases within their realms, they can give them by merit. City employees are encouraged to do their jobs better and the whole community is rewarded with better service.

Besides, who knows better which employees deserve raises than someone who works in the same department? As Augusta Administrator Randy Oliver has maintained, we should let our managers manage.

Yet Mayor Larry Sconyers and several commissioners have other ideas. The mayor argues for a 3.5 percent salary hike across the board. According to his pay scheme, a meritbased pay system would be phased in over the next three to five years.

"That way you can give everybody a little something and next year we can start to train department heads," he said.

Did we hear the mayor correctly? How much more "training" do the department heads need before they can see who is doing the best job? Did they not possess such skills when they were hired?

The commissioners have been presented with a chance to reward hard working employees and eliminate pay differences between the old city and county employees. They stand a good chance of blowing it, too.

But no matter what they decide on this issue after going over their marathon agenda, let's not reward mediocrity with an across-the-board pay raise. Reward raises to those whose merits deserve them.


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