The sentiment behind the effort to establish a pension for Macon City Council members with more than 10 years of service may have been pure, however, that’s doubtful. In one fell swoop, councilmen Henry Ficklin and Lonnie Miley, sponsors of the legislation, reminded city and county residents why they voted for consolidation.
If you thought the positive vote for consolidating city and county governments was centered around a more efficient business model, you might be right, in a different sort of way. If you thought the electorate wanted to cull 21 representatives to 10, you might be right as well. But the pension proposal is an example of why, after more than 90 years and seven attempts at passage, people said enough.
City Council shenanigans are the reasons consolidation passed this time around. In recent memory there have been embarassing decisions over turning down grant money or not wanting to accept interchange beautification at Mercer University Drive and Interstate 75. Some members have become so toxic outside of their wards that if they are for a proposal, a good chunk of the community would be against it, no matter the merits.
The pension proposal would not have affected the sponsors of the idea, rather, Ed DeFore, who has served on council for 42 years, Rick Hutto, James Timley, Elaine Lucas and Charles Jones would have been eligible. Jones and DeFore said they were against the proposal. Ficklin and Miley have now withdrawn it, because of citizen reaction that could have been predicted when they first thought of the idea.
We suppose in this day and age public servants who volunteered for office expect a little somethin’, somethin’ extra. That’s one of the reasons there are ordinances preventing a sitting council or commission from voting itself a raise. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked in Washington, D.C.
We will soon start counting down the days, weeks and months for consolidation’s approach. We won’t have long to wait to see who will offer themselves for one of the nine commissioner seats. and even the mayor’s seat. Some of the same personalities are sure to surface.
The present council members should know that we appreciate their service, however, not enough to give part-time employees a pension for life for serving on an elected body that will soon cease to exist. The same will go for the new commission.