Editorial: Questionable

Editorial: Questionable

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is an editorial from FOX6 WBRC General Manager Collin Gaston, first aired on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015.

Talk about getting things done. Last week, in less than a minute the Birmingham City Council was able to approve a last minute ordinance added to their agenda.

If you weren't familiar with the ordinance that was quickly approved, one might surmise our Birmingham city council is a well-oiled machine that works as a unit that quickly arrives at consensus while conducting their responsibilities as elected stewards of the city's business. That would be if you weren't familiar.

If you were familiar, you would be well aware that an ordinance was recommended and submitted by Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin to increase the pay for city council members from $15,000 to $50,000 starting in 2017.  For those of you without a calculator handy – that would be a 233 percent increase in salary.

With a year over year increase like that it certainly explains why it didn't take but a minute to pass – doesn't it? Not a bad compensation package waiting on you if you still have the pleasure of serving the citizens of Birmingham in 2017 on the city council.

A spokesperson for the council said the move to increase pay comes after some current city council members assessed other municipalities' compensation in cities such as Nashville and Atlanta. I have no doubt these council members retrieved information showing Birmingham was paying their members less, but obviously there have been good reasons all these years that a raise didn't make sense.

Now all of a sudden all current city council members, except one, have decided that Birmingham is in 200 percent better shape and can now play "catch up" and vote themselves in a whopping $35,000 raise.

For the record, and according to the National League of Cities, council compensation typically involves "council members receiving modest compensation for their work, because they serve on a part-time basis."

I have a hard time calling anything that took place at that meeting last week modest. The manner in which this whole vote came down calls into question whose best interest the current council is looking out for – ours or theirs. I would encourage you all to ask that question next year when each member is campaigning for their job before they get that raise.

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