By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Opinions still vary widely among Strasburg Town Council over whether to give employees a one-time bonus or a pay raise.
Town Manager Judson Rex's proposed fiscal 2013 budget includes a maximum $63,000 which would allow Strasburg to give its workers a one-time bonus of up to $1,000. Not all council members support the proposal as displayed during their work session on the budget Monday.
Councilman Scott Terndrup said the amount equates to a 2 percent pay increase which he supported over a bonus. Staff had asked for the salary raise to implement merit-pay procedures as directed by council.
"So to me this is just one more example of us directing staff to do this and then we not funding what we told them to do ..." Terndrup said. "To think that the cost of living has not gone up for everybody is just nuts."
The town could afford to give its employees a 1 percent cost of living increase, Terndrup said. The councilman also criticized the proposed spending of $30,000 needed to build a stormwater retention pond for the Madison Heights subdivision.
"I think it's just a shifting of our priorities so is it people or stuff?" Terndrup added. "So what is your priority? Personally, I'm with the people."
Councilman Robert Baker said he opposed a bonus of any amount, noting some residents don't receive a cost of living increase. Councilman Rich Orndorff echoed Baker and concurred with Terndrup. Councilmen Richard Redmon and John "Red" Hall Jr. expressed support for giving workers a bonus, though Hall indicated he would not want to see the amount exceed $1,000.
Council members touched on the Downtown Streetscape project which drew varied opinions.
Councilman Justin Ritenour said Strasburg needs to go further.
"If we don't address the other issues that go beyond the sidewalk, that actually creep into the businesses, in their checkbooks, we're gonna have a beautiful sidewalk and beautiful streetlights and no businesses," Ritenour said. "So it doesn't stop at the sidewalk for us.
We need to get up the guts to do something besides pass another stinkin' ordinance that says your sign can't be larger than 12 inches by six inches and piling more and more regulations on these people because I am a businessman and I will tell you right now if I ever get an opportunity to move out of this town I will, and that's something that this council needs to take seriously."