Island Gazette

Editorial: Pay For Council Members

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Managing Editor

Local elected officials shouldn't get paychecks or cell phone allowances.
Years ago a cell phone allowance made sense because the providers didn't give as much air time for the money.
That's not the case anymore. Most plans have unlimited minutes with Internet and email at better prices.
And elected leaders volunteered - at least during campaigns - to serve the public.
It's not a position the taxpayers should be forced to fund.
But a lot of elected leaders in our area get a small paycheck, cell phone allowances, travel expenses and health insurance coverage.
The Kure Beach Town Council recently voted to cut their pay and cell phone allowances to help fund requests from non-profits who seek donations from the Town each year.
Times are tough.
That's very frugal and after all, it's not a lot of money to begin with.
While the Kure Beach Town Council is faced with raising the property tax rate upwards of 2.75 to 3 cents, and confronted with previously unknown garbage funding shortfalls, this type
of budget cut - while small - can add up with other small cuts to equal even larger savings.
In fact, the Carolina Beach Town Council and all elected leaders in New Hanover County should step up and eliminate their salaries and allowances.
I'd say health insurance as well, but I don't want to push the issue too far. But if an elected leader was already paying for health insurance prior to being elected to any office, they should avoid the perk and not ride on the backs of taxpayers.
Besides, most of them have full time jobs with benefits or are retired and hopefully have a retirement plan with insurance benefits.
Once again, getting elected to any local office in our area is purely a volunteer job. It's not New York. It's not Las Vegas. It's not Miami.
These jobs are important, but when the taxpayers are making sacrifices, the elected leaders should continue to depend on the income they earned prior to running for office and not benefits paid for by the taxpayers.
I'd like to believe our elected leaders run for office because of their commitment to volunteer public service.
This isn't about travel expenses. If elected leaders have to travel to Raleigh or Washington to lobby
for funding here at home, paying for their gas, hotel and food expenses is a good investment.
Now is a good time to test all of our elected leaders on this issue. Not because it's a lot of money - it's not - but more importantly, the principal of the matter.
And if our elected leaders can't part with that small amount of money, well, how easily can they be influenced?
Another interesting aspect - at least in Kure Beach - will be the question during the next election season. That question will be, "If elected, will you vote to pay yourself for your volunteer office?"


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