But fear it will be used to detract from more substantive issues.
I am sure some people think that elected official compensation is too high. I support the 2020 levels for a council member at $39k and a county commissioner at $52k, despite the city being a larger organization requiring far more hours. If people are successful in getting the media to reduce this to a soundbite, it could become an issue. While this may be an issue for some, there are more substantive issues. In making the change at the council level we made sure the change was noticed 2 weeks in advance, was done for 2020 as part of the 2019 budget process, had a public hearing, and went through several months where open comment was available. Additionally the 2020 property tax rate was reduced from 2019 and our 2020 contingency is larger than that of 2019.
There appears to be people running for office who have never championed any cause, participated in any community effort, but are only there to complain about council members being paid $39k per year. What happens when these individuals who lack understanding of other issues are needed to lead?
In the last 4 years the city has moved aggressively to modernize planning, greatly reduce infrastructure sprawl, make infill development more straightforward, greatly increased the stock of housing, including affordable, greatly expanded transit. We are shifting our energy supply to 100% renewable. We tore down and rebuilt the Convention & Visitors Bureau mindful of preventing self dealing, we are eliminating special favors and a lack of oversight for outside organizations who receive public assistance like the Arts Trust & Civic Theatre. We prioritize rebuilding existing infrastructure over building more infrastructure. We have taken an unfunded future liability for roads from a figure of more than $1 billion to having a plan to properly maintain this infrastructure. We have created a police policy oversight committee because we believe in citizen control of policing and we don’t want a police department that acts like that of Minneapolis. We have mobilized resources to meet the needs of our most vulnerable amidst COVID 19, and made adjustments to maintain a balanced 2020 budget, without further adding to local unemployment. We have quickly reacted to provide opportunities to help local businesses adapt and be flexible. We continue to focus on earning outside resources to ensure that we have strong local projects that will aid in our recovery. We have replaced outdated budget process to one that is more transparent, more realistic, allows more input and earned the praise of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and citizens alike. The cumulative effect of the policy changes made since the 2016 and 2018 elections are such that we are undoing decades of self dealing and saving our community hundreds of millions of dollars going forward. Additionally we have passed major policies requiring usable recordings of all public meetings, ending the “dinner meeting” practice, and ensuring that the city will fight for fair districts for our people at all levels. What is particularly impressive about all of these changes is that we accomplished this with a property tax rate which is essentially flat since the state last changed formulas in 2012.
Here is some data looking at local official compensation: