Opinion

GRANT MERRILL: The Misplaced Priorities Of The Butler County Commission

Why in the world did the Butler County Commission vote to give themselves a raise?

I know I am not the only one asking that question this week. If the comments section on our Facebook page is any indication of how area residents feel, I know that I’m not the only person that has gotten rubbed the wrong way by this action.

If you missed Olivia Haselwood’s story on Tuesday, the commissioners voted to increase their own salary and that of other elected officials by four percent. For the commissioners, this would give each of them a $1,100 bump in salary over the course of a year. It was noted that this was done with little discussion or fanfare. So now, each of these public servants will now receive some $29,700 to attend meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays each week.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they hadn’t acted with such a flippant attitude toward things like a salary study to determine why Sheriff Kelly Herzet can’t keep deputies working for him. It wouldn’t be so bad if deputies weren’t leaving because a small town the size of Bel Aire pays more than the county does. It wouldn’t be so bad if residents of Towanda weren’t left wondering if enough law enforcement will be available to answer their calls when danger lurks in the shadows.

However, these problems exist mainly because of financial issues – and this raise looks really, really bad on our county commission.

Just over two weeks ago, Butler County Deputy Travis Elder stood before these very commissioners and stated, “I love what I do, but I just can’t make ends meet.”

Now, Deputy Elder and his comrades get to read the news that while they can’t make ends meet, their county commissioners who work two days a week are getting more money for their part time jobs. While he and his colleagues literally had to beg these commissioners to even study the issue of whether to give his department more money for deputy salaries.

An extra $1,100 a year for a deputy would put meals on a table for his or her family. That same amount would put a down payment on a family car, or pay for a well deserved vacation.

These people put their lives on the line every day, without fail. They work long hours for very little respect from the people they have to deal with.

Apparently after Tuesday’s vote, they have very little respect from their county commissioners.

These commissioners and other elected officials do a lot for our county, but to give themselves a raise just a few days after members of law enforcement had to beg them to study the issue is a slap in the face to their constituents. Even worse, it is a slap in the face to the law enforcement that protects our county on a daily basis. These officers deserve every dollar they earn, and shouldn’t have to beg for the issue of similar raises for law enforcement to be looked at.

I hope for their sake that the next time a county commissioner has to call 911, that the deputy normally available to respond to their emergency hasn’t gone to work for more money in Derby or Bel Aire.

After Tuesday’s vote, I for one, certainly wouldn’t blame them if they did.

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