Granted, it may have been self-serving for Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center Manager Larry Rogers to recommend a salary hike for himself in the proposed $1.66 million budget. But then, as the saying goes, if you don't blow your own horn, nobody else is going to blow it for you.
Besides, it's Rogers' job to include wages in his budget plan, and he's an employee just like everybody else. Moreover, his $60,000 annual salary, plus $5,000 car allowance, is $15,000 less than what his predecessor received - yet, presumably he's doing a better job than his predecessor.
Perhaps this is why he urged a 7-percent wage hike for himself and only 3 percent for his staff.
Admittedly, it looks bad. In any event, he didn't deserve the public tongue-lashing he got from some Augusta Coliseum Authority members the other day. They should be able to disagree with his proposal without being disagreeable about it.
Particularly mean-spirited were the remarks of Authority member Bill Maddox. "I don't think Larry Rogers is worth that kind of money," said Maddox. "This is taxpayer money. If it was your money, you damn well wouldn't be here passing it."
Actually, they didn't pass it. The board will take up the budget - and the salaries - again next month. Let's hope by then, fairer and more courteous minds will prevail.
The board needs to remember that Rogers didn't come to them hat-in-hand asking for the Civic Center job. He was asked to take it - about 10 years after he was fired from the same job - by a board desperate for stable, competent management.
At bottom, however, it's impossible to know whether Rogers is entitled to the same percentage raise as his staffers or something more than that; as several Coliseum Authority members rightly pointed out, he has not been formally evaluated. That's what's necessary, especially before an above-average wage increase is approved.
For instance, has Rogers brought enough new events to the Civic Center/Bell Auditorium complex? What are his plans to reduce the facility's projected $600,000 deficit? Are the facilities he's responsible for clean and sanitary? (The answer to that appears to be a resounding "yes.") Does he treat his staff fairly? And vendors?
These are the kinds of questions Coliseum Authority members must answer before deciding on Rogers' raise request. If he's evaluated fairly and openly, the public most likely will go along with whatever the board decides.
But whatever Rogers ends up being paid, he's always entitled to be treated with courtesy and respect.
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