Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Condon's salary is only a drop in the bucket

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Media outlets (here and here) been reporting that Spokane Mayor David Condon is taking his full salary in his recession budget proposal that includes layoffs.

First, the news isn't new. The Inlander reported in March that Condon would be taking his full salary.

Second, Condon would save the city less than $70,000 — in a $164 million budget — if he took the pay cut that former Mayor Mary Verner took. (And, causing headaches, subsequently asked for back.)

If we're talking in terms of sheer revenue, increasing the property tax levy by 1 percent which the city has done nine out of the past 10 years, would raise $400,000.  Most of that would go toward the general fund that pays for police, firefighters and the library. Condon is against that increase.

Third, there are other budget issues that probably have more consequence. Like the property tax levy mentioned above. Or the fact that Condon hasn't accounted for any increase in firefighter salaries, even though such an increase will almost certainly happen.

Lastly, by eliminating 19 vacant police positions, the city police force stands to shrink next year. Condon may insist he's not cutting from the force because there are no police layoffs. But given the time it takes to train new officers, if any (or some, or all) of the 47 current officers eligible to retire (there are about 275 police officers total) decide to leave, the force could shrink. 

Now, that's not to say a reduced salary could help save one or two city positions. Or that Condon actually deserves to be paid $169,000. But the magnitude of cuts needed to close the up to $10 million budget shortfall — as well as the unwillingness to raise revenue — make Condon's salary look like small beans. Any solution to avoid mass layoffs or more department eliminations (Arts, Weights and Measures) will need a much more creative solution.

Read about those issues here in this week's story.

For more tidbits on City Hall, head here

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