, Salem, MA


March 20, 2014

Letter: City should consider its priorities

To the editor:

I am always fascinated with the annual top salary lists from cities and towns around our area. While we are never surprised to see the real heroes topping the charts, police and fire persons of all ilk, it is equally disappointing that we can’t find the resources to support the other heroes in the public realm. Where are the teachers, the administrators and the engineers that keep our city clean and efficient? Among the best in the region?

The mayor aside, I am sure the city payroll is chock full of shameful bargains. Are our children lured to the classroom to hear from the one teacher that may change their life? Do our utilities get green through anything but hard work? Our streets and parks the envy of neighboring communities because of keen minds and dedicated staff?

I would never disparage the validity of our civil servants’ earnings in the safety and security sector. That would be short-sighted, naïve, and frankly, political suicide, not that I have any designs on public office. However, I am certain I echo the thoughts of many. Are our tax dollars spent askew? Should we re-evaluate our priorities? In doing so, that does not mean devaluing one group, rather recognizing the baseless bargain of some of our most important and influential Salem employees.

Sound economics is about balance and fair trade. It seems the city payroll has been hijacked by the defenders of our community, through no fault of their own. At what point do we re-examine this imbalance? At what dollar value is there diminishing returns? Or worse, a fleecing of the noble staff who serve us so well and faithfully? I don’t know the answer, I only pose the question.

Peter Atkinson


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