Borough Mayor Dave Carey is proposing pay raises for three borough employees for this budget year.
We believe the mayor deserves to be heard on these increases. And we believe the borough assembly should vote up or down based solely on Carey's rationale.
Up for a salary boost in Carey's budget are the positions of Kachemak Emergency Service Area fire chief (from $62,000 a year to $74,345); The KESA assistant chief (from 56,000 to $64, 906) and the recently appointed capital projects director (from $84,681 to $92,000).
Carey is arguing that the salary increases for the emergency chiefs is a more realistic compensation level, especially given the salaries of other emergency officials in the borough. The Central Emergency Services chief earns $93,054 a year and his assistant chief, $87,624. Salaries for Nikiski's emergency managers are comparable.
"I'm trying to bring (Kachemak chiefs) more in line," Carey said earlier this month. "They provide relatively much of the same services and should be correctly compensated for the work they do."
And, Carey notes, the proposed salaries are at the bottom of the scale for those positions.
In the case of the capital projects director, Carey says his credentials and 25 years of experience justify the pay boost.
Let us be clear -- we are not advocating for the salary increases. Rather, we're suggesting that all concerned -- assembly members, Carey and his administration, the public -- leave memories of last year's contentiousness over borough salaries in the past.
Be it poor timing, misunderstood justifications or folks just getting up on the wrong side of the bed -- any number of issues seemed to turn last year's salary discussions into a contentious morass. Left unattended were some good borough employees who just may have deserved a pay increase.
We are encouraging Carey to make his best case when this issue comes to the assembly. And we encourage the assembly to make a decision based on the borough's budget situation and how well Carey makes his case.
In short: The past is the past. These salary decisions deserve consideration on their own merits.
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