Everybody knows stuff that costs more is better. Why buy a $3 jar of Smucker’s when there are $12 rhomboid-shaped jars of artisanal marmalade, chutney and fruit curd on the shelf? Plus it just feels good to treat oneself to luxury.
So who can blame our City Council for scoring San Antonio one hell of a status symbol in City Manager Sheryl Sculley, whose current salary already places her well above the national median for her position, and whose proposed increase would set her pay at a monocle-popping $355,000?
Just think of how envious LA* is going to be. Our City Manager is a rock star, dammit! She runs marathons. She has wisely replaced the high-caloric, sugary drinks in City buildings with delicious, healthful Diet Fanta (mit aspartame!). She's got dreams of getting San Antonio on the move and on the map. San Antonio is big time; we’re ballers.
Earlier this month Sculley presented a proposed balanced budget, which includes a generous 2% cost of living allowance for City employees and retirees, and an incentive-based pay increase for City execs (not to exceed 5% for any individual). The budget contains the typical feel-good language about cost-saving efficiencies, property tax freezes and improvements to infrastructure and emergency services. She's doing a heckuvajob. But $3355,000 a year? What else do we get for all this cheddar?
Not social services. Among the budget recommendations to fund programs like Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), there are also proposed cuts for other volunteer-staffed programs that help poor San Antonians learn ESL and study for their GED. Apparently it's just too costly to keep the buildings open on Saturdays … all of $332,000 costly.
Seems it doesn't really matter how you or I are doing economically. None of us needs to be told that these continue to be difficult times. Texas is overwhelmed with requests for food stamp aid — HHS just requested more than 1,500 new eligibility workers to deal with the onslaught. Locally, the San Antonio Food Bank has seen a significant increase in requests for assistance, many from folks who've never sought such services in their lives. Kinda makes a 12.7% pay bump seem a little excessive, no?
But at the end of the day, this isn't about Sheryl Sculley. We need to evaluate how City Council perceives “value.” While other cities across the country have subjected their city executives to furloughs and pay freezes, and working families are finding it damn near impossible to keep themselves clothed, housed, and fed, maybe it’s time to consider the wisdom of this rather exorbitant payday.
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