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Letter to the Editor

'Raises' story raises questions for reader

May 08, 2013 - Dear Editor,

In regards to The Clarkston News story, "Raises for city workers" on May 1, there was no special committee and the charter requires committees to be approved by the council, which there is no record of happening. This is the same thing that happened with the city manager selection committee, approved after the fact, months after they had started meeting, and only after a resident pointed out the charter violation.

The proposal for raises was hidden from the council and public, with the council meeting agenda saying only, "Employee Wage Survey" and no information provided for the meeting. I requested it and nothing was provided until after raises had been approved by the council without any notice, committee recommendation, or the public's knowledge.

"No one had had a raise in eight years" is inaccurate if not outright wrong. The clerk and treasurer are both new positions and had been hired in at a new rate. Therefore, they had not received a raise in a little over one year. The city manager's duties were significantly decreased from what they once were by having three people do the work that had been done by one person.

The police department was eliminated, which had to significantly reduce the work load of the office staff. They have new furniture, new heating and cooling in the office, new computers and new software to make their jobs easier and more comfortable. If you are a DPW employee, you work with little supervision and the DPW director has the only private office in the city government. I did not hear of anyone threatening to leave because of the pay, so I have to believe the working conditions and pay were not that terrible. I know I didn't get a raise this year even as my taxes and other expenses increase.

The reason there is a budget reserve is the city charges the maximum tax rate legally possible and more than 60% higher than the surrounding township even though the government provided services are almost exactly the same, most services are provided by Independence Township, and the city does not pay for some, such as senior services and parks and recreation.

It is easy to build up reserves when you charge more and provide less. If the reserves are truly that much greater than recommended, how about lowering our taxes?

The final sentence of this article shows the real problem with revenues increasing by only 3% while expenditures increased by 13.1%.

Other than the City of the Village of Clarkston, who can increase their spending by 13% with only a 3% raise? I brought this to the council's attention many years ago and was ignored. I have no doubt the city will continue to ignore it.

Cory Johnston


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