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Cass County Commissioners send wrong message

Published 4:43pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

While those lucky enough to be receiving raises fall in the range of a percentage point or two, the Cass County Board of Commissioners raised eyebrows last week with their 35 percent hike for 2013, a new cell phone reimbursement and $10 more per diem to $30 for meeting attendance.

An 8-6 vote preceded the commission reverting from the bloated 15 members it was saddled with for the past decade to a more manageable seven.

At least we thought the return to seven would be a good thing.

There were spirited contests for seats at the current $7,500 instead of $10,200. It’s hard to reconcile where Republicans here are coming from when their party nationally is perched precariously atop the fiscal cliff talking about reining in government spending.

Taxpayers certainly imagined they’d realize more than $37,033 a year by reducing commission head count 54 percent. Instead of arguing the remaining board’s responsibilities double, it would be a good time to re-evaluate the workload, reduce it to reflect part-time pay and set a good example.

It’s telling that the two most experienced members, Johnie Rodebush and Carl Higley Sr., who have seen it all serving through thick and thin, were the most vociferous.

“We’re not meant to make a living wage here,” Higley said. “That’s not what this job is, it’s service to the county.”

And nobody touched Higley’s hot potato of a question of why commissioners even need taxpayers to subsidize cell phones, since they don’t need to be instantly available.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the editorial board.

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