Bad timing for pay raises

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another hand-wringing budget season came to an end for the Southampton County Board of Supervisors when, on Monday night, the board unanimously passed a $52.1 million budget for 2011-2012.

We are pleased to note the budget that was approved included a 1.3 percent property tax increase, not the 3.8 percent increase that was originally proposed.

That should not be misconstrued as our endorsement of a 1.3 percent increase in real estate taxes.

We also do not endorse the 2 percent across-the-board increase for all county and school employees.

As Supervisor Walt Brown said, “They’re working their hearts out … they deserve a raise.”

We wholeheartedly agree. We disagree, however, that they should actually get one.

Unfortunately, we know many, many people who are working their hearts out and who deserve a raise — and are not getting one.

Private industry is replete with employers who are daily choosing to keep wages flat to keep as many of their workers employed as possible. But in a slow or receding economy, the choice often comes down to providing raises and bankrupting the enterprise, or holding wages flat and keeping the doors open.

We fail to understand why taking more money from those who aren’t getting a raise from their private enterprise employer to give a raise to county government and school employees is fair — or ethical.