I write in response to the June 19 editorial “FPB pay hikes should be in line with COLA,” which stated: "Each year the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes Cost Of Living Adjustments (COLA) to the supplemental income of retirees, veterans and disabled Americans — many of whom are FPB ratepayers. In the past seven years, the highest COLA was 3.6% in 2012."
FPB Director Steve Mason and the SJ Editorial Board are serving up weak tea here, as the FPB’s 9% raise over two years brings the salaries of the majority of our FPB staff up to the “midpoint” of market value for their positions, which is more in line with the private sector, in order to prevent them from leaving.
We can all agree that the FPB's professional staff provides excellent service at reasonable rates. Without the valuable experience and institutional knowledge that these workers provide, services would suffer greatly.
True enough, there are some instances where the Board of Directors could cut corners to save money for the ratepayers, but being chintzy with staff salaries, putting them at risk of not being able to recruit and retaining skilled career employees, is not one of them.
The editorial erred with its apples and oranges comparison of the SSA's COLA for retirees, veterans and disabled Americans and the FPB staff. The SSA isn't in the business of running a municipal utility and having to retain highly skilled employees in a high-demand marketplace. Its benefit recipients can't leave and go somewhere else to get them; they are stuck, and at the mercy of rich politicians who have no idea what it is like to try to live on a fixed income.
Truth be told, this FPB salary adjustment is long overdue and should help provide a boost in morale for the staff, which has suffered some big hits in recent years. Plus, this increase will be absorbed without a commensurate rate increase, and offset by the savings incurred by the municipal utility in time and effort by not having to train new staff in their areas of expertise.
The wisdom of the majority of the Board of Directors is to be commended. Maybe someday, Director Mason and the Editorial Board will see the light and grasp the significance of the pay raise that shows our appreciation for the experience and institutional knowledge that FPB’s workers provide. Retaining workers is much better than training new staff.
Director Hale said it best, in “...how important it is to maintain our employees and not just become the training ground."
The editorial concluded, "COLA might make a good benchmark for future FPB raises."
No, it is a terrible benchmark for future raises! As is using state government's seemingly continuous salary freeze. Our tea party, anti-government administration extols that all government activity is bad since it inevitably impinges on individual freedom, and has shown no interest in recruiting and retaining skilled career employees.
The best benchmark for future FPB raises is to "keep them more in line with industry standards."
Jim Daniel is a lifelong Frankfort resident and retired Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection enforcement agent. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.