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Putting a value on public service

   So how much is an elected official worth?

   The question makes a great opening line for any number of jokes, but the underlying issue deserves some serious consideration.

   In today's Bufalo News, we have a story regarding the controversy surrounding Supervisor Satish Mohan's $75,000 salary, and a resolution passed by the Amherst Town Board to ensure Mohan never gets a raise.

   And then there's the promise by Erie County executive candidate Chris Collins to work for only $1 a month.

   There's no question that it's hugely unpopular for any elected official to seek or accept a big salary or pay raise, no matter how much or how little the job pays.

   The negative political consequences of seeking more money for a job - even if a raise is legitimately deserved - means that some of our locally elected leaders end up receiving a smaller paycheck than the upper level administrators who work for them.

   Some might argue that a taxpayer-supported job in public service shouldn't be compared to a job in the private sector. Or that the elected official in question hasn't performed well enough to merit any kind of raise.

   Others might say that only by giving our top-ranking local leaders salaries indicative of their huge responsibilities will stronger, better-qualified candidates run for elected positions that are undeniably demanding and stressful.

   Which arguments sway you?

  --- Sandra Tan



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