Longmont city councilmember pledges whopping $66 to furloughed city employees

A lifetime of being a government bureaucrat sure gives someone a warped sense of scale. Longmont City Councilmember Karen Benker, who as a career politician never stops campaigning, made the grand gesture to forego her city council stipend for the 2 days the city is furloughing city employees. These furloughs will save the city around $140,000, give or take. Her “sacrifice” will save the city about $66. Impressive.

In case you didn’t know, councilmembers receive a $1,000 a month stipend, the Mayor receives $1,500. Divide that by 30 days and that’s $33.33 and $50 per day, respectively. Multiply by 6 the smaller amount (6 councilmembers), add in the $50 and that comes to $249.98. Since employees are being furloughed 2 days (day after Thanksgiving, day before Christmas), multiply that number by 2 and the grand total comes to $499.96 that city council would “match” the city employees financial misery index – which has grown exponentially under this council since 2007.

Hey, that’s only a difference of $139,500.04, but it’s the thought that counts. How about a months worth of stipends ($7,500) or a years worth ($90,000)? Now we’re talking real money. (Yes, we pay $90,000/year for this assault on our senses)

I’d be curious to know what these furloughs are costing individual employees in pay. If you are a city employee, make a comment (anonymously is fine) about how much you are personally losing. By the way, I’m sure you’ll be comforted to know that the legal fees in the ongoing legal battle with Firestone over Union/LifeBridge has probably surpassed the $140,000 being cut from your paycheck. And these furloughs occur right around the holidays, how nice. Then again, it was former Firestone Mayor Mike Simone who referred to an “anti-religious faction to the Longmont City Council, so what do holidays (especially Christmas) matter anyway?

Adding insult to injury, did any of you city employees catch the comment by at least one councilmember (Sarah Levison, if memory serves) to remind you, city employees, to shop local in Longmont? Of course you’ll have less money to do that thanks to city councils wasteful spending ways. But doesn’t that remind you of the rip on Walmart these types usually make – where employees are urged to do their shopping where they work? Regardless if that’s all they can afford due to the wages, I just thought it was ironic.

How much do recalls cost again? Ah, nevermind, city probably can’t afford that either. How convenient, and probably not totally coincidental.

Joking (although it’s not all joking) and sarcasm aside, I suspect 2 days are not all that will be cut, I’d count on 5 or more, and more next year. Anyone who follows the city budget over the years knows that their biggest expense (and most governments and companies for that matter) is payroll. The last time this city had a budget crunch there was a pay freeze, that lead to the police/fire department demanding (and eventually winning) collective bargaining.

In the recent budget, some on council were spending like “drunken liberals” (note: I use that term here as it’s in the popular culture, but can we dispense with that term, because most of these types spend this way while perfectly sober) with their little pet projects, and cutting spending on activities that bring money and employment to Longmont (LAEC). Meanwhile that looming huge number (for payroll) was there but ignored until there was nothing else to do. What’s the fastest way to trim the budget? Well, the biggest item of course (payroll) and telling them to share the pain.

Yes, city employees, you must put some skin in this game of theirs. Hope that was the change you had in mind, or if you’ve forgotten:

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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