Monday, August 27, 2012

Councilman Tom Tait Saturday renewed his call for more generous compensation of Carroll’s elected city officials.

Speaking during a strategic planning session, Tait said recent elections have been full of unopposed candidates on the ballot.

When he talks to residents of Carroll about council service, Tait says he’ll often hear, “You guys don’t get paid anything.”

Members of the council are paid $2,400 annually. The mayor’s salary is $4,800. There are no other benefits.

Tait isn’t proposing an increase in pay. He’s suggesting providing perks, such as free memberships for the municipal golf course, recreation center or aquatic center, places he reasons elected officials should be examining anyway.

He said residents should be motivated to get involved in the city by more than just a reaction to the words or deeds of elected officials — “Somebody made me mad, I’m going to change that.”

In that arena, Councilman Jeff Scharfenkamp said the city needs to continue to engage residents in discussions, reaching out for input.

“Way too often we don’t get enough feedback from people,” Scharfenkamp said.

Mayor Adam Schweers said elected officials need to analyze the city from the perspective of outsiders, possible new residents.

“Our population’s going to come from outside at this point,” Schweers said.

He added, “I have to take that into account when I start to look forward.”

Tait didn’t disagree. But he called for managed growth.

“You gotta watch what you bring in,” Tait said.

Tait said a decision in the City of Carroll about a decade ago to reject a potential meatpacking facility was the correct one.

“You need to bring in businesses that bring in the right people,” Tait said.

An important draw for Carroll is the relatively low crime, Tait said.

“This is a rare community that I can live in where my kids can run all over town and I don’t worry,” Tait said.

Scharfenkamp said marketing Carroll is key.

“If you don’t live here, how do you explain to somebody why you should?” Scharfenkamp said.

Scharfenkamp said he is going to err on the side of being “too progressive” because Carroll is in direct competition with other cities.

“It’s going to be survival of the fittest,” Scharfenkamp said.

Some communities in western Iowa have elected not to embrace public works initiative and they are in decay, Scharfenkamp said, declining to identify those places publicly.

“We can’t have the whole notion of driving down taxes be our whole (focus),” Scharfenkamp said.