The Sun wrote a rather flattering editorial praising the novel idea of Mayor William T. Martin of Havre de Grace to put the question of pay increases for himself and the City Council on the ballot for voters to decide (“What happens when voters set salaries of their elected leaders?” April 4). On the surface, this does seem like a worthy endeavor; however, if The Sun did a little more homework they might not come to the same conclusion.
First, everyone needs to know that Havre de Grace is run by a very well-paid administration with at least six positions over $90,000 per year, including the director of administration who is supposed to oversee the day-to-day activities. In addition to many other salaries in City Hall in the $60,000-to-$80,000 range, the mayor also saw fit to hire a former councilman and friend as his chief of staff, a new position for the town, at $83,500.
Second, Mayor Martin was a former city councilman who was never able to muster enough support for a pay increase for him or his colleagues. All of the prior mayors, and most of the prior council members looked upon their elected positions as one of civic duty and a privilege to serve in those capacities. Havre de Grace became such a great place to live and visit or vacation because of that type of attitude in its elected officials as well as all of the unpaid volunteers who dot the landscape of our museums and special events. This mayor and council seem more worried about their hourly rate of pay and what new events they can create to be seen at. In the past, if an elected official spent an extraordinary amount of money in his or her official duties pertaining to the city, they would simply put in a request for reimbursement and it was taken care of. This administration does not put in any more time or work more diligently than those of the past.
Finally, these officials knew just what they were doing last year when they changed the charter to allow for this election question. History shows that Havre de Grace has a very low turnout for most elections, especially non-mayoral ones (like this one coming up May 8) and that most questions put on a ballot are approved (especially when promoted by the administration). So, it was a good way to receive this rather obscene pay increase (120 percent), and say it was the citizens’ vote to do so.
Now, we are of the opinion that small, incremental salary increases are OK from time to time, but this ballot question should be answered with a resounding no on May 8. If these officials don’t care for that, they simply don’t have to run for the privilege of serving our great historic city!
Charlie and Tina Mike, Havre de Grace
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