Bret Marx: Food for thought

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I don’t think I share the popular view on this issue, but I have some food for thought for all who oppose the compression pay raise for city of Steamboat Springs employees. The services that we all need, enjoy and rely on are provided by city employees: the clean water we drink and sewer systems that are a necessity; the fire protection and police services we hope are there for us when we need them most; the snow-plowed roads, filled potholes and street signs that protect us and get us to and from our destinations safely; the baseball field maintenance for Triple Crown and for the ski hill we drop our children off at and enjoy skiing with them on; the free city buses we ride around town and our guests rely on.

All of these services are provided by our neighbors, friends and even family members — city of Steamboat Springs workers — not private industry. How many of those services do you think you could/would be privatized? Like it or not, government provides these “luxuries” for us. The people who perform these jobs chose them, just like the rest of us who chose jobs in the private sector. So why all the resentment toward the city employees? I have not heard a city worker say, “I wish the home builder or landscaper was making less money.” Or, “I wish the restaurants were less busy.”

Everyone wants more money, so why is there such opposition to a compression pay raise? Remember the trickle-down effect? The restaurant workers who rely on tips and the shop owners who want more revenue benefit when other people make more money. We all want people to shop local, but if the money is not there, neither is the business.

We need to remember that the lower the morale gets for the city workers, the greater the chances are that the high-quality services we have come to expect from our city workers will be a thing of the past.

Bret Marx

Steamboat Springs

Comments

mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

You have mistaken, I think, a change in attitude among the general population regarding fiscal responsibility for resentment. When people who work in the private sector have not had a raise for more than 4 years why should they be willing to dig into their static salary to raise the salary of those who claim to be pubilc servants? That's not resentment at all, it's simple, predictable human nature.

You answer your own question when you ask why there is such opposition to pay raises. It is not personal, it's not resentment. It's just like you say "everyone wants more money" and that includes taxpayers. On what plane of logic does it compute that we shall have more money put in our pockets by spending more of it in taxes with the expectation that it will return to us in tips? I think many folks are simply saying "I'll just keep it in my pocket in the first place".

Finally, when there are millions of people lined up for jobs like these all across the country it is hard to make a case that we are going to run out of help fixing potholes.

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Dan Hill 1 year, 9 months ago

@Bret - everything you say of city employees could also be said of the employees at Safeway or City Market who are far worse off--logic would suggest we ought to be agitating for them first.

It is perfectly reasonable for taxpayers to say they want city services but they also want them to be provided as cost effectively as possible. That means not overpaying staff. We can argue about where that line is drawn, but drawing it in a different place does not constitute resentment.

Your position may be right, but I don't see you presenting evidence that city employees are underpaid, or explaining how the proposed increases can be reconciled with the revenue side of the ledger (letting our children pay for it by eating up our reserves is not the right answer).

It's an argument for a different day, but I don't accept your premise that all the services you list can only be provided by government. But it's worth pointing out why provision of services by government should be a last resort rather than simply assumed as the only way these services can be provided. It can be illustrated by the fact that we don't have to worry as Safeway customers what they pay their staff. Too little and they won't be able to complete with City Market for staff, too much and they won't be able to complete with City Market for customers. We don't have that mechanism to regulate the pay of city employees other than waiting for the next election (imagine having to wait four years to change to City Market if you are dissatisfied with Safeway!). So it's perfectly legitimate for the taxpayers to take a keen interest in this...

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Bret, Yes, public employees do provide important services. But your scenario of service breaking down assumes there is a severe problem of unfilled important city jobs. The facts appear to be the exact opposite. The City apparently currently has little trouble filling jobs with well-qualified job applicants.

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Brian Kotowski 1 year, 9 months ago

Not much to add to what's already been posted here. As someone has already pointed out Brett: your suggestion that many of the services being provided by the city can/should ONLY be provided by the city illustrates a lack of imagination, and with all due respect, a fair amount of arrogance - i.e., Government Knows Best. I heartily recommend spending 7 minutes of your time to take a look at Sandy Springs, GA. A city of 100,000 which has privatized virtually all "city" services, save police & fire protection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8qFvo...

On the other hand, you can look at Stockton, CA - in the news recently as the largest American city ever to go bankrupt. Or, just google 'municipal debt' and see what you find.

For all your whining about (mis)perceived resentment, you've offered not a single suggestion (let alone solution) regarding declining municipal revenues in the one of the most anemic economic climates we've seen. As far as I can tell, your position is : "let's ratchet up public spending, and not worry about where the money's going to come from."

My resentment is directed squarely at that attitude, NOT at municipal employees. There are any number of ways to characterize that attitude. What comes most immediately to mind is "childish."

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John Weibel 1 year, 9 months ago

The Sheriff comes a knocking and says I need more, does not matter what you all have, I need more.

to the sheriff's department this is not about you, just government wanting more and more, like the sheriff of nottingham. That is a great theft of a story of a government run amok and someone steps in to do something about it.

cant happen in this day and age, google the battle of Athens TN right after WWII.

Glad to see they are concerned about employing people, yet they forget how to pay for all of it.

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john bailey 1 year, 9 months ago

they can continue to suck it up like the rest of us. the private sector is in it for the long haul, we have no choice. i don't have any more pennies to squeeze, when i'm out of them thats it. quit complaining and be happy you have a job. right now any job is still a job. freeking whiners. hey any body seen my dog?

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

John, I just realized that your quest to get food processing on your ranch may have an unintended effect upon your property taxes. If that causes the county assessor to classify that barn as having a commercial use then not just is that barn taxed at commercial rates, but a proportional percentage of your entire property can be taxed at commercial rates. So you could end up having some land going from ag to commercial as well as the barn.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 9 months ago

Hey Brett You got the ink but you lose this discussion. On tonight's national news a city has reduced its employees to minimum wage. I have already forgotten where but I think it was in New Jersey. Sorry I am old and partly senile. The memory is the first thing to go and I for get what the second is. Let them quit and people will be lining up for their jobs. They are no smarter or prettier than anybody in the private sector and they had better start figuring that out. Only public employees I have much sympathy are police and fire protection. How do you compensate any one for risking their lives?

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Bret Marx 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm glad so many people have read my letter and I have recieved quite a few positive comments on it. John, you ALWAYS have a choice. Sounds like you have given up on yourself which is too bad. And I am very happy have a job. I don't know where you got the idea I wasn't. The purpose of my letter was not to offer a solution or suggestion but to merely get people to think about things from another point of view.

Bret (that's one T Sep)

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Bret Marx 1 year, 9 months ago

Sorry Sep, I didn't mean to single you out.

Bret (that's one T Jerry)

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john bailey 1 year, 9 months ago

hi bret, if you are refering to this john, no i have not giving up. i'm in construction does that tell you anything? so care to contribute to my wage? i had to cut back to get work. my choice is to work thats my only choice. really 5 dollars an hour over my wage will be fine . i'll send you my address and time sheet expect payment promply. freeking whiners. i still can't find my dog.! hey tom see your feeling better! glad to see you on the board.

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Brian Kotowski 1 year, 9 months ago

Bret with one T:

My niece wants a pony. I think I'll buy her one, even though I can't afford to. I'll just demand that my friends & neighbors step up and pay. Even though the vast majority of them find themselves on short rations in the present economy. Exactly the paradigm you've applied here, and eminently reasonable food for thought - if you're an 8 year old.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 9 months ago

Trenton N.J. All city employees were reduced to minimum wage. Guess Steamboat city and Routt county employees are not so bad off after all.

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John Weibel 1 year, 9 months ago

Scott,

It does not matter as the additional expenses elsewhere would be far more. Though today I am wondering wether it is even worth the effort at this point in life. It is not adding to my quality of life and as I would be better off washing dishes financially, today, I am not sure what to do.

I had a dream of making peoples lives better through good food - that is being done by lots of grass fed beef purveyors today and the market is saturated, that I was helping the others get ahead - I seem to only hurt myself in doing this, and the environment which the government is doing such a good job of taking care of. I should probably just worry about my own happiness.

Peace and maybe see you in two + years producing dairy products. I am done on the subject.

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