Sunday, October 10, 2010

Doing the Job You are Paid to Do

One of the things that angers me most is seeing public employees earn a good salary and then not doing the job they are expected to do.  Or the ones who do a job other than what they are trained for and expected to do, while receiving all the benefits.

I'll start with elected officials who have full-time salaries.  Let's all agree that one needs no training or expertise to run for most elected positions.  So, faced with two unqualified candidates, the electorate is likely to lose either way.  Faced with one qualified and one non-qualified candidate, they are free to choose whomever and live with the result.  Either way, the pay is the same.  Some officials figure once they are elected, how much and how often they work is their decision, and despite being adequately compensated for a full-time job, they make it a part-time hobby. 

The electorate often never knows how much of the daily work an official actually does.  Perhaps they do their appointed duties, but often it is parcelled out to subordinates.  Not much we can do about that except 'vote the bums out of office' in the next election.

But, there is another area where employees do a job they are not professionally trained to do, but do it and collect salary and benefits of the more dangerous job.

First, let me say that I believe Public Safety is crucial to any successful community.  But, we should have our public safety employees performing that job.

When I worked for the Township, I never agreed with having a trained law enforcement officer or fireman doing the budget.  IMO, budgets should be executed by trained financial professionals.  When I attended the Advanced Government Finance Institute at the University of Wisconsin, I met someone who was the Finance Director for a large metropolitan Public Safety unit in another state.  We, as finance professionals, were happy to see that this city hired someone who understood the intricacies of budgeting and kept their officers in public safety positions. 

Let's face it:  Why should local citizens pay a police or fire officer a public safety salary and public safety benefits, only to have that person sitting at a desk doing budgeting?  Do they really need to retire at 52?  Granted that budgeting can be stressful, but I would hope that police work and fighting fires is more so. 

With a new Police Chief in West Bloomfield, maybe we can eliminate a police officer doing budgets (and whatever other non-police work jobs that officers are doing) and hire someone at a salary and benefits commensurate with a finance job.  Yes, that trained person may have a higher annual salary, but their benefits would be less, especially in the retirement cost. 

We as residents want to see our officers on the street.  If we are truly only hiring the most-qualified officers out there, then let's use their skills on the streets, not on the desks.  Unfortunately, some of our public officials seem hung-up on having a police chief who knows how to do a budget.  Fortunately, the majority realized that is not the skill that is necessary to run a successful police department.

Restructure the department.  Put our officers on the street.  I might just support a millage increase if I see that happening.

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