by Max Brantley
A commenter last night claims a Tea Party protest is planned at tonight's Pulaski County Quorum Court meeting over planned county pay raises and a bike trail expenditure. On the latter, unless I miss my guess, the trail is being financed by road department money that must be used for transportation spending and can't be diverted to the jail or crime-fighting as a critic suggests.
The pay raise? Another issue entirely. The commenter also claims a plan to give deputy sheriffs 5 percent raises and everyone else 4 percent — on top of a 4 percent raise and a 4 per cent bonus last year and a 5 percent raise the year before that — has been amended to 5 percent for everybody, including members of the Quorum Court. With this Quorum Court, I can believe it, though a self-approved elected official pay raise (as opposed to raises for deputies and others) of either 4 or 5 percent on top of recent boosts is a slap in face to the 10 percent unemployed, the untold numbers of underemployed and everybody else still struggling in a difficult economy. But this is just tax money.
On the jump is a Tea Party alert. It will be interesting to see the turnout.
I've confirmed that JPs Jeff Rollins and Bob Johnson have filed an amendment that would give all county employees a 5 percent pay raise including, with current pay: County judge and sheriff (both $88,069); county clerk and treasurer (both $77,602); assessort ($75,923), and JPs ($10,678).
This is a dilemma for the best-informed JPs. The sheriff needs to lift pay to attract and keep sufficient employees, particularly to staff jail beds. But all the elected county officials refuse to accept less than equal treatment for their employees. No insult intended, but I don't think anybody is swooping down and hiring away county office staffers once trained in dangerous work. And enough JPs depend on pay or are lame ducks to make an effort to have JPs forego their pay raise as important symbolism is unlikely to pass. So the across-the-board pay raise, enshrined for all time, likely will be adopted. It was not created by dint of sacrifice, but by an elastic property tax flow. Voters will remember when the inevitable call comes for the sales tax increase necessary to open more jail beds. Better solution: 5 percent for deputies; 1-2 for county employees; nothing for elected officials.
Oh and the Tea Party is nuts on the road and bridge expenditures. They're sound ideas that pay important community dividends in terms of quality of life.
TEA PART EMAIL ALERT
How would you spend an extra $6 million dollars???
Tonight the Pulaski County Quorum Court is voting on their budget for the 2011 calendar year. They have added an extra $6 million dollars of your tax dollars from the reserve to their already, large budget for multiple, non-essential projects as well as a county-wide 4-5% raise!
We are hoping to appeal to the Justices on the Quorum Court to think differently about preceding to approve this bloated budget. Our hope is that they will consider tabling this budget until there has been time to further discuss resolutions with the citizens of Pulaski County.
Your presence is needed to show to the Justices and the
Quorum Court that their constituents are aware and want
a voice in the areas of the county that affect all of us!
Please join us!
TONIGHT (11/23) at 7:00 PM
201 Broadway Ste. # 410
Little Rock, AR 72201-2325
Come early to get a seat!