OUR VIEW: First raises since 2005 deserved for West Point mayor, council positions

Published 9:30 am Thursday, June 17, 2021

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Most of us at one point or another woke up one day with the idea in our minds that we are going to march in our boss’ office, kick our feet up on the desk, and say, `It’s time to talk about a raise.’

In most cases, we aren’t authorized to give ourselves a raise, although we often feel the most qualified to make that judgement.

At its regular business meeting Monday, the West Point Council did just that, and in our eyes it was well deserved. The raises will take effect in January, after the municipal elections in the fall. We’ll say that it’s always eyebrow-raising when a council gets to vote itself a raise — especially when some of the members aren’t even up for election this year. West Point could’ve decided to wait until three years down the road for the raises to take effect, so that council members weren’t, in essence, voting themselves raises, but chose for the new pay to start in January.

Regardless, we think the extra pay is justified.

The mayor’s position will now earn $595 per month or $7,140 annually, a 40% increase from the position’s current salary of $5,100.

The council will earn $420 per month or $5,040 annually, a 68% increase from the current $3,000 salary.

We have written in this space many times during the last year about the transformation West Point is currently going through and the council and mayor play a vital role in that.

We’ve never heard anyone say they were running for a mayor or council position for the money, but perhaps this increase in salary will convince a few others to run for office in future years.

The conversation on raises started in March when Councilwoman Sandra Thornton requested the council review city council compensation.

“I’ve been on the council since 2003 and the last adjustment or increase that the city council had was in 2005,” she said during the March 23 work session.

Thornton said she realized that many councilmembers may find the topic taboo but felt it was important to at least compare and discuss. Thornton also said she hoped the council could work together and possibly develop a committee that could look into a potential increase.

“I feel like we have all worked and earned this because times are different — 2005 is a long time,” she said.

Thornton is correct, times are different now and 16 years is a long time not to give a position a raise.

It’s also important to note that as a society, the majority of us are not willing to donate our time to make critical, sometimes life-altering decisions that impact an entire community.

Mayors and council members make large decisions that impact everyone in our community. Just the stress alone is worth a few extra dollars a month.

With that power, and with these raises, come a higher level of accountability and more scrutiny. That’s not to say we think the City of West Point lacks accountability now or ever. We are just saying as the compensation increases, so should the expectations.