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City oblivious to economy

Once again the chasm between private sector and the public sector employers — the government — continues to grow, with a clear disconnect between the two.

Across the nation hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs are being cut. The struggling economy is forcing countless businesses to close their doors for good. Millions of Americans continue to go to work each day with no assurances of the future and virtual freezes on pay increases, along with increased medical co-payments and diminishing 401k matches.

But in the golden halls that is government employment it is business as usual with bloated benefit packages, guaranteed salary hikes and other perks that seem proof that some elected officials won’t stand up to the unions and change the status quo.

That seems to be the case in the City of Ironton after its council unanimously agreed to give its firefighters and police officers significant raises and a variety of incentives that basically amount to bonuses just for doing their jobs.

Let’s be very clear. These men and women are underpaid to perform difficult jobs. Each and every one has made sacrifices and deserve pay raises.

But now is not the time.

This move sends the absolute wrong message to many Ironton residents who are struggling to make ends meet, in part because of a litany of fees and back-door taxes the city has implemented.

While the city has budgeted and says they can afford these raises and bonuses in 2009, who knows what the future holds for 2010 and beyond. Now is the time for the city to squeeze each dollar to its maximum potential use while keeping an eye on the short and long-term economic climate. Giving it away as bonuses for firefighters who stay in shape and police who know how to operate a gun is foolish and irresponsible.

We hope all sides reconsider these increases and find a way to halt these changes.

Americans — and Irontonians — need to feel like they are facing the challenges together and that goes for those working on both sides of the government fence.