Tulsa Election 2013: Proposition 1: Yes for a reasonable City Council pay raise

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The conventional wisdom, conditioned by a decade or more of self-serving propaganda from certain quarters, is that the Tulsa City Council is just a bunch of bickering complainers, and we'd all be better off to go back to the old commission system where all the decisions were made by five men who lived within a 3 Wood drive of each other.

I beg to differ. The citizens of Tulsa who don't live in the Money Belt deserve representation, too. And most of the city councilors I've known work very hard to ensure that they are listening to their constituents and that their constituents' voices are heard at City Hall. Often that means resisting proposals from the mayor or the Chamber of Commerce or other sources that may not be in the best interests of their constituents or the city as a whole. Good councilors enforce government transparency and accountability.

In addition to attending committee meetings and the regular weekly council meeting on Thursday, a conscientious councilor also attends neighborhood association meetings and city board and commission hearings affecting his district, and spends time researching the issues that come before the council.

It's not a full-time job, but it takes up a lot of time. For councilors who run their own businesses, that often means a loss of income. For all of the councilors, spending more time on council duty usually means more miles driven, more meals eaten out, and home duties farmed out to hired hands, all at the councilors' expense.

When the new city charter was approved in 1989, it set an initial annual salary for City Councilors as $12,000, a minimal sum even then for a council that the powers that be hoped would be nothing but a rubber stamp for mayoral and chamber initiatives.

We can't afford to make city councilors whole for all the work they do above and beyond the official weekly meeting, but we can at least acknowledge their hard work with a stipend that can help them justify the cost of serving to the families who depend on their income.

$24,000 in 2013 dollars is $12,709.86 in 1989 dollars. So we're talking about a 6% raise (adjusted for inflation) for a job that is arguably twice as complex and twice as time-consuming as it was in 1989. That's a bargain. I'll be voting yes.

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Paul said:

I'm voting against the proposition, but not because I'm opposed to our council form of government. I think it's better than having commissioners elected at-large. I'm not opposed to a raise, either. $24,000 is not enough, in my opinion.

But I'd rather not see the city's charter revised. If the councilors want to vote themselves an increase in salary, then they can do so. They ought to be able to decide the amount of compensation.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 12, 2013 12:25 AM.

Tulsa Election 2013: Proposition 3: The "Improve Our Tulsa" G. O. bond issue was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa Election 2013: BatesLine ballot card is the next entry in this blog.

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