GUEST COLUMN: Committee OKs 8.4% raise for commissioners; final vote set for Monday

The nation is in the middle of a pandemic. Families and businesses are hurting. People have lost their jobs and with it their health insurance. Restaurants and bars are closing and laying off workers.

Next door in Oakland County, the county commission, dominated by Democrats, took part of its federal CARES Act money, added some general fund dollars, and set up a $10 million fund to make grants to struggling local bars and restaurants.

What did Livingston County do? The Republican-run county commission voted themselves a pay raise. And not a little one – an 8.4 percent raise.

That will bring their pay to $19,000 for the chair, $18,500 for the vice chair, and $16,500 for the other seven commissioners, if the raise is approved in a final vote at Monday’s county commission meeting.

That’s in addition to the taxpayer-paid health insurance they receive, as part-time workers.

They lacked the courage to do this as part of the county budgeting process because that would have meant voting on it before the November election. Instead, they waited until the election was over and they were safe from voters’ wrath.

The five commissioners voting for the raise in finance committee were Bill Green, Jay Gross, Bob Bezotte, Jay Drick, and Doug Helzerman. The lone Democrat, Gary Childs, voted no.

Drick said the county has plenty of money, $27 million extra.

And their first thought with what to do with that $27 million was not to help struggling businesses and families but to help themselves to some of it.

As Commissioner Childs pointed out, the commissioners have a built-in conflict of interest. They set the wages for the county’s full and part-time employees and then say they deserve a raise because the county employees got one.

Meanwhile, he said, the commissioners work part-time but give themselves the health insurance that they deny to county part-time employees.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The public can show up at the commission’s Zoom meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday and speak during the call to the public against the pay raise.

Maybe the five will listen. If not, let’s vote them out.

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