Yes, Don't Vote Yourself A Pay Increase Without Telling The Public First

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors wisely accepted fellow board member Bobby Jones' reservations about voting itself a pay increase during a called meeting last week.

As reported by The Farmville Herald, the proposal for the County to begin paying Supervisors $100 for attending called meetings was not on the agenda. Furthermore, it was not on the agenda of a meeting that was not one of the board's regularly scheduled monthly meetings.

Whether the additional pay is justified or not, the appearance of the thing might have led some to criticize the Board for pulling a quick one, slipping in a pay increase without stating any public intention to do so.

Email newsletter signup

Clearly, the best decision was made by the board-to avoid leaving itself open to that criticism-and the pay raise motion was wisely withdrawn.

Prince Edward County supervisors are paid $9,000 a year, or $750 per month. The position of board chairman is paid $10,200, or $850 per month. No board member is donating his or her time.

Some would argue that public servants who actively campaigned, asking people to vote them in office, do not need an additional $100 for called meetings, which are meetings over and above the regular scheduled monthly board meetings.

Others would argue that the volume of work and importance of the decisions do justify an additional $100 for attending a called meeting.

This editorial does not concern itself with whether the $100 per called meeting is justified. But whether it is justified or not, the matter should be addressed as an agenda item at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board of supervisors, the agenda printed and made public in advance of the meeting.

No, we're not talking about millions of dollars; $100 per called meeting isn't going to make anyone rich nor will it financially strap the County treasury. But it does represent a pay increase that would be voted on by those receiving it. Treat the $100 question as if it were a one hundred thousand-dollar question-as transparent and public as possible. Leave no room for misperception.

The best course for any board of supervisors to take is to include a proposed raise for themselves when the next year's proposed budget is being developed, and is advertised and subjected to a public hearing.

The taxpayers providing the money for the salaries should have every chance to comment on the proposal before such a vote is taken.

Mr. Jones, of Lockett District, said he had “reservations” about the proposed pay increase and “especially bringing it up at a meeting like this.” He suggested it should be addressed at a regular monthly meeting and with the agenda printed in advance.

His fellow board members showed wisdom in concurring with that position.

“I have to agree,” said Farmville District Supervisor Jim Wilck, “that maybe we'd better put it on the agenda (so) somebody can see it ahead of time and discuss it-not that I'm opposed to the motion. It's just the way it was presented.”

Present it again and let the public have its say.