At first glance, the proposal before Madison County Council to give the county's non-elected employees a 3 percent pay raise might seem curious.
After all, the local tax base is shrinking and most everybody has been in belt-tightening mode since the recession hit in 2009.
But when you consider it a little more deeply, such a raise does make sense. The year 2006 was the last time county employees got a wage increase, and many of them are currently making less than $30,000 a year. And, in most departments, employees are doing more now than ever before. Positions have been eliminated, and the work load in many instances has increased.
Government exists to serve people, not to employ them. But the relationship between pay and quality of services rendered can be directly proportional. Employees who are fairly compensated are more apt to be productive and less apt to be disgruntled. And that can make a significant difference when a citizen stops by the county building to take care of business.
Now, we're not talking about a trove of money here. While these workers won't be getting rich off their county jobs, they should make enough money to be able to afford necessities and enjoy a decent quality of life.
And don't forget about the necessity of the work they do — keeping streets clear of snow and in good repair comes to mind right now, after the Madison County area was dusted Tuesday night with an early snowfall.
It's the co-responsibility of county council members and county commissioners to be good stewards of citizen's tax dollars. It's also their charge to make sure that county employees are treated fairly.
The proposed 3 percent raise for hourly county employees addresses both responsibilities.
In summary When you consider it carefully, a modest pay raise for Madison County employees makes sense.