Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead has been both praised and criticized in this space in the past for some of the decisions he’s made for the city. The one he made Thursday was correct if for no other reason than simple fairness.
Craighead said in a statement he vetoed an ordinance passed by the Lebanon City Council that excluded raises for about 20 city employees who received promotions during the last budgeting process.
“The problem with this amended [ordinance] is that it stops short of reaching the finish line for all our employees,” Craighead said in a statement. “On this, I feel it is totally wrong to omit 20-plus employees from an across-the-board raise. The positions, which have been excluded, are those jobs which have been reorganized for cost savings; individuals who have applied and received new jobs within the city to fill vacancies, and have received certificates within their descriptions so they become more professional at what they do.
“To leave these 20 employees behind to me is much like army service mentality of never leaving a fellow soldier behind on the battlefield. This is also totally wrong in that it goes against our own personnel handbook.”
The ordinance passed Tuesday by the council is wrong on several levels. First, it goes against the city’s personnel policies that call for raises of this nature to “be applied equally to all grades of the pay plan in order to maintain the same degree of spread between grades and steps within grades.”
To do otherwise would certainly open the city up to possible litigation as city attorney Andy Wright warned the council Tuesday. He said excluding people could possibly raise a red flag or make the city liable for omitting people.
“We had some restructuring, and we asked people to step up and take on more responsibilities and these people stepped up for the city,” Craighead said Tuesday. “It’s not fair. I feel like we need to take care of our employees. Excluding a certain amount of people is not in my thinking.”
It’s certainly not fair. Raises of this nature aren’t to reward city employees; they are merely to compensate them for cost of living increases. Promotions are given as rewards for hard work, and the council was wrong to exclude those people.
Hopefully this wrong can be made right soon, and all city workers are treated fairly. It’s just the right thing to do.