Just ask Mayor Zanni and the City Council, who last year negotiated then approved contracts that handed out big raises to the police, firefighters, teachers, superior police officers, public safety dispatchers, public works superintendents and middle managers.
As Zanni noted when he proposed his budget in June. “I’m trying to keep this $100 or less on the tax increase. Except for the raises, pretty much the budget is level funded.”
Except for the raises.
So why did the mayor and the council propose and approve raises for public employees in a time of uncertain revenues? Surely, these employees “do a good job” and have made sacrifices during tougher times. Perhaps they even “deserve” their raises -- but not when the money is not there to pay for them.
People in Methuen and elsewhere who labor in the private sector work hard, too. They do their jobs well and deserve raises. But they have endured pay freezes, furloughs, rising health costs and other expenses that have eroded their standard of living. Not the least of these rising expenses is the ever-growing cost of government.
The average Methuen homeowner paid a $163 increase last year for a total of $3,666 in property taxes. The increase the year before that was $134. And now the city wants another $137 this year -- or face a reduction in police and fire protection and public works services.
Enough is enough.