Letter to the Editor

Herbst voted for pay raise for city staff

Saturday, September 7, 2002

Like most readers of your paper, I breeze through the Speak Out feature of the Southeast Missourian to see what the topic of the day is. Lately I have found that my name has been mentioned by callers in reference to the 1 percent cost-of-living raise that was approved by the Cape Girardeau City Council on June 17 for all city employees, not just the police department. Apparently there is a misconception that I voted against the 1 percent cost-of-living raise. Since I have also had similar responses from citizens, I felt that it is appropriate that I respond to the issue.

If you review the council minutes from the June 17 meeting, you will find that I voted against the amendment to exclude the 1 percent raise and voted for the city budget that included the pay plan's cost-of-living raise. The minutes also reflect that I made the initial motion to approve the budget as presented by city staff.

It is true that I did second Councilman Jay Purcell's motion to amend the budget to not include the 1 percent raise. I did so out of respect for Purcell's desire to discuss the ramifications of approving the pay plan's cost-of-living raise in a rather right budget year. As I stated above, I voted nay for the amendment. I am not quite sure how the public dialogue started that I voted against it. But since the misinformation was becoming more frequent, I felt it necessary to address it.

I will mention that I have commented that the city has a serious challenge ahead to provide a budget that provides adequate services to the citizens in addition to providing adequate and fair compensation for the employees. However, with the present revenue streams, it is going to be tough to provide our employees with an appropriate parity raise without substantially cutting services to the citizens.

That is one of the reasons the mayor appointed a Citizens Finance Task Force to assist in developing increased revenue streams for our general-revenue fund. I would hope that during my tenure of service to the city that we will all be successful in our endeavors to make Cape Girardeau a safe and prosperous place to live, work and play.

Charlie Herbst represents Ward 2 on the Cape Girardeau City Council.