Friday, April 10, 2009

Leadership at the Top

It's time for the Vancouver City Council to re-consider the automatic cost-of-living (COLA) increase that was received this year. The Mayor of Vancouver should be leading the charge on this matter.

Although the increase is minuscule in comparison to the overall budget -- a few thousand dollars compared to the $125 million operating budget -- the positive message sent to the sacrificing city employees and the struggling tax payers in our community is immeasurable. Yes, we know times are tough; Yes, we respect your tax dollars; Yes, we appreciate city employees have sacrificed; Yes, we are too part of the 'family'; and Yes, we can too sacrifice.

A fine example of fiscal leadership from the top was demonstrated today. In a press-release from the Vancouver School District, Superintendent Steve Webb reduced his own compensation by 4.5% to help lessen the impact of a pending budget shortfall of possibly $8 million.

Also, today City Manager Pat McDonnell announced that certain city management would be frozen from merit increases for 2009. This adjustment comes on the heels of previous news that certain city staff would not receive COLA increases for 2009, or voluntarily elected to relinquish their COLAs.

Let's be sure not to forget the private sector -- many companies and their leadership have taken proactive steps to prevent excessive layoffs, including temporarily frozen employer match contributions to retirement plans, halted performance/merit increases, eliminated travel expenses, etc. Our firm and our employees have also absorbed some changes to curb costs and retain employees.

On related matters, I have been asked by a handful of neighbors about the city council compensation.

The question most typical questions comments are:

"Do you feel like you're paid adequately for the job?"
"Shouldn't you receive more for your effort?"

Here's my response:

In 2008, my councilmember 'salary' from the City of Vancouver was (before taxes), $22,740. I enjoy returning a large part of that back to the community via charitable contributions to local organizations like the YWCA, Share House, The Free Clinic, The Skills Center, The Parks Foundation, and The SW WA Humane Society, etc. In fact, it was my pleasure to provide regular contributions for kids after school programs at Evergreen and Waterworks Parks, as well as start a scholarship at Clark College for students interested in studying engineering. In 2008, over $14,000 of the council compensation was returned to the community.

So...YES, I feel like I receive adequate compensation.
If I received more compensation, I'd simply return more to the community.


Anonymous said...

Good to meet you tonight at your Mayoral kickoff.I agree that they current administration has not been friendly to business. Hope you can change that. While I understand your concern about supporting citizen safety, how do you plan to address corruption in our Police department?

Anonymous said...

You will recall I have brought this up several times. The last time was in an e-mail. Not one council member responded.
Pat Campbell