Originally created 09/22/00

Say no to wage hike



When Teresa Smith was appointed three weeks ago by an Augusta Commission majority to be director of Augusta's public works department, she knew what the salary was. If she didn't like it, she should have turned the post down.

Smith accepted the position and the salary, but now she is stirring up a hornet's nest, whining to the commission that a $73,000-a-year salary for the utility department's assistant director is more than she's being paid as director of her department.

So Smith is asking for a whopping raise to $82,722. She's way out of line.

In the first place, she has no business using someone else's salary to leverage hers. The comparison is phony and the commission should have better sense than to fall for it. There are plenty of instances in government where salaries of lower-ranking employees are higher than those of executives.

Secondly, and most important, Smith's salary is what is called for in the commission's own wage structure policy.

As city administrator Randy Oliver points out, if commissioners boost her pay outside the standard, then they'd have to do the same for other department heads, or see a precipitous decline in morale.

Commissioners have been talking about changing the wage policy, and that may be fine after sufficient public input and discussion is given to the issue, but they must not allow themselves to be bullied into making a salary exception to their own rules.