Importance Of Appearance Lost On Council

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Nobody is saying the Payson Town Council doesn't deserve a raise, and nobody is saying they had anything but the best of intentions in voting themselves a hefty one last night.

But as your mother probably taught you, appearances often count for more than reality. It's a lesson that only Mayor Barbara Brewer among the seven council members apparently learned.

When the subject of a raise was brought before the council at the March 10 meeting by Vice Mayor Judy Buettner (who is not running for re-election), only Brewer had the wisdom to recuse herself because she intends to run for re-election.

Councilor Robert Henley announced he too was running for re-election, but didn't see the need to recuse himself, and the others just sat there looking like a row of choir boys. (Councilors George Barriger, Tim Fruth and John Wilson will still be in office when the raises take effect. Councilor Dick Reese has not yet announced his intentions).

Last night, the raises were made official as part of the consent agenda. Again, only Brewer bothered to recuse herself; Fruth was absent from the meeting.

So come next year, councilors will be making $500 a month -- twice as much as their current salary, while the mayor will enjoy an 80-percent increase to $900 a month.

Both figures are now above the average compensation in the 10 "comparable municipalities" used by Tracy Snyder, human resources manager, in a market study she presented to the council -- Apache Junction, Avondale, Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Gilbert, Goodyear, Prescott, Sierra Vista, Surprise, and Wickenburg.

It would be impossible for the council to give itself a raise if all seven councilors recused themselves, but wouldn't it make you feel good about your elected officials. But then nobody, not even Brewer, is perfect.

In fact, the mayor said she had to re-learn the lesson about appearances early in her political career when she failed to recuse herself over the subject of home businesses.

Maybe there's still hope for the rest of the council.

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