Saturday, January 28, 2023

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
Ph: 336.228.7851

Last we heard, town councils were supposed to be in charge of their town’s spending

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Well, we’ve recently been critical of several municipal boards – specifically, Mebane’s and Burlington’s city councils – because they took action at their council meetings without having informed the public of the items on their agenda or provided for any public input on the issues that they voted on.

But, this week we have to give the award for brazen presumptiveness to Elon town manager Richard Roedner, who took it upon himself to give raises to some of the town’s policemen.

He did so, not only without input from the public, but without input from town council members.

At this week’s town council meeting, Roedner merely informed the town council of the action he had already taken.

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This was particularly high-handed inasmuch as elected council members are at least supposed to be in charge of the town, and especially in charge of the town’s budget, including spending and taxing issues.  They should not have a town bureaucrat usurp that authority.

But Roedner merrily decided on his own not only to spend money that was not his to spend, but also  by doing so to obligate the town (and its town council members) for even greater future expenditures for the police raises he implemented unilaterally.

For in addition to the bump in salaries for the remainder of this fiscal year (which ends June 30, 2023), the higher salaries that Roedner dished out will have to be funded in future fiscal years.

He didn’t just give out some one-time bonuses; no, he increased their overall salaries, thus obligating tens of thousands of additional dollars for the next fiscal year and every one beyond.

Several jurisdictions have been grappling with the same problems Elon has: a lot of competition for good law enforcement officers.

One of the lasting legacies of George Floyd’s death and subsequent protests in 2020 has been to make finding, and keeping, good officers a challenge across the nation in light of  a rather broad anti-law enforcement atmosphere.

Everyone within at least 50 miles in each direction is looking for more police officers, sheriff’s deputies, or other state and local law enforcement officers.

And any competent, breathing officer – whether in Elon or elsewhere across Alamance County – is a prime target for recruitment.

But at least with other Alamance County jurisdictions, the city managers were not so audacious as to take it upon themselves to decide whether, when, and how much to spend.

They wisely, and properly, consulted their bosses – the actual officeholders – and made a recommendation for what they should do.

Roedner should have done the same.

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