Editorial: Paying the price for public service

Serving the public means watching where the dollars go

Local government pay raises and spending always solicits comments from the taxpayer. In this week’s paper the front page story is about the pay raise the school trustees gave themselves and on page 3 is the tally of what candidates spent on the election. All of this is above board and in the public record. What it does do is bring up the question of how much money is enough or not enough?

Public service is about serving the public and the community because of what a particular candidate believes in. It isn’t about it being a “salaried” job. When an elected body gives themselves a pay raise it’s not even about the good job they’ve done, it’s often about keeping up with the other school board, councils or municipalities. Numbers are pulled forward to justify the increases and the public doesn’t get to decide. We’re not saying those serving the public don’t deserve more of a stipend, because it can be a thankless job, but when budgets are being cut every which way and it’s the kids who go without, it just seems inappropriate somehow.

As to spending on election campaigns it becomes obvious that when there is only so many council seats, each and every pamphlet, sign or advertisement could make a difference. But what it comes down to is a candidate’s reputation. Small towns have big memories and previous actions or inactions are a consideration. It is interesting how little some candidates spent and how much others spent. Did it make a difference? Who knows really. It’s about that person being involved in the community in a good way, that’s what brings in the votes. It ends up being about what they stand for.

Serving the public means serving the taxpayers and those elected need to be mindful of how they are spending the money supplied by each and every one of us.