Fireman negotiation for a raise
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
As a councilman representing ward 4 I would like some input from the citizens of Miles City as to how you would like us to proceed when we begin negotiation with the city unions, starting with the fire union. Let me know if you live in Miles City and if you live in my ward. Thank you Leif Ronning
Top
Posted by Steve Allison (+981) 10 years ago
First I live in Miles City but not your district and this comment is not aimed solely at you but the whole city council. I feel you should all be ashamed at this jumping in at the last minute. You should have worked with the process earlier letting your opinion be know though the long negotiations. Jumping in afterwards is just dragging out the process and increasing the expense of the negotiations and maybe the final deal. This is not a vote for or against the deal that was made, just my feeling that when invited to join the process early on, the council should have instead of wasting months and months of everyone involved' time.
Top
supporter
sponsor
Posted by souix (+301) 10 years ago
I am not in the 4th ward either, but have been following along with what has been published in the Star. Steve is correct that the council should have been involved from the start. The Council, by yielding their position to the Mayor then complaining about the negotiations, really did themselves a disservice.

Further, the figures put out in your letter to the Star stated that the firemen make $50,000 when in fact their base pay is $31,000. It is difficult for the public to take a stand when they are given facts that do not reflect the reality of the situation. One Councilman mentioned that towns similar to Miles City have roughly half the fire personal. However, Miles City is very unique in its demographics, such as the number of elderly and the distance to medical facilities that are equipped to deal with more complex medical problems. In addition, we are a hub for many small towns and rural areas.

Speaking from experience, when an emergency arises it is of little importance to have a huge reserve and a slow response time.
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
The city hired an individual to negotiate for us, and while we were told we could sit in on the negotiations, he said during his report that it was best that it was done without us and we could now dicide how to proceed. The council was asked to either support or accept the budget that was developed by the finance committee which did not include funding for the raise. The issue on the pay of the fire: I asked for and was given the income paid to the firemnan last year. I wish the fireman cost $30,000 a year. I used a rough average for income that ranged from 42,000 to 63,000 a year. This is before you include the cost of their insurance and a 12% match on their retirement. I appreciate your support for the fireman, especially as it was the first I have received in two weeks since I requested the input through a letter to the star. Dozen of residents of my ward have registered outrage that a raise was even considered. We are now going to take the logical approach and meet with the representatives of the union in an effort to get the facts not just the commonly held beliefs about the fireman and see if we can come to a mutual agreement before going to binding arbitration. Leif
Top
Posted by Roxanna Brush (+125) 10 years ago
I know some people who need a job if the fire dept is looking? I havn't seen anything posted about a job though. What is the truth? What percent raise did our jobs offer? 1.5 here.
Top
Posted by shannon (+82) 10 years ago
Miles City should just go to an all volunteer fire department. Works for many cities in western South Dakota. There would no longer be an issue of county vs. city fire departments and the true heros (not the ones in it for a paycheck) would step up to the opportunity. Sturgis and Spearfish both run their departments by volunteer firefighters/EMTs. Perhaps you should make a phone call....
Top
supporter
Posted by Stone (+1596) 10 years ago
I know that you specifically asked about the fire departments negotiations but for what it is worth hear is my two cents.
First and for most the Cities internal policy concerning negotiations is broke and needs to be fixed. Last I heard negotiations and the final signature on the budget were the Mayors responsibilities, according to MT codes.

Back in the old George Kurkowski days, George would speak to the council and get a ball park figure to begin negotiations. That figure may be 0% during hard economic times but $900,000 cash carry over balanced on the back of current City employees and $3.2 million in reserves does not bode well for tough economic times. Then the Mayor, the Council President and the head of the finance committee would sit in on negotiations with or without the Mayors high priced negotiator from Missoula that has cost the City over $200,000 to use. This should all be done before negotiations ever begin.
Here is a letter I sent to the Star for publication on the matter municipal workers union.

Municipal workers stance

We are writing this letter to inform people of the truth concerning negations between the Municipal workers union Local 283A and the City of Miles City.

The first point we would like to make is that there is no conflict between the Union and the city. The conflict and or stalemate that is about to take place is between the Mayor and the city council. We cannot speak for the other two unions but we were prepared to take a wage freeze this year. However, the City offered us a 2.1% wage increase and the union accepted it. Then the city council decided to vote this proposal down. This is regressive bargaining, under labor law, but we were still willing to look for a peaceful solution.

At the December 28, 2010 council meeting the council made it very clear how they feel about their labor force. This stance has left the unions in the vicarious position of trying to do the right thing for their members and save face with the community. The unions now look like the bad guy while in fact the whole argument comes down to a wrestling match between the council and the Mayor. I do not know which side is right or wrong but I do know that it is time to intelligent solution to this problem. Instead of forcing the unions to take the hard line to attempt to receive what was offered to them in the first place.

One last thing to remember is that city employees are taxpayers. Too many people in this town think that they are the only ones that pay taxes when in fact many of the taxes generated in this town comes from government employees.
Top
supporter
Posted by C.Kee (+376) 10 years ago
For the second year in a row, social security dependent people have not received an increase, yet prices on everything continue to increase.

Or is this the third year? Just my two cents....

[This message has been edited by C.Kee (12/30/2010)]
Top
Posted by dnewton09 (+91) 10 years ago
I wonder how much you would think
the firefighters are worth when it is your house
that is burning down.....
Top
supporter
Posted by Kelly (+2706) 10 years ago
adding to dnewton09.

especially when it is -40C outside.
Top
Posted by Cynthia A. (+197) 10 years ago
Why do YOU think the only firefighter heros are the ones who volunteer? I bet not just here in MC but in many other places, people would disagree. The firefighters that responded on 911 were PAID employees...any person who would put their life on the line to fight a fire for a paycheck or not for a paycheck is a hero.
Top
Posted by Bruce Helland (+586) 10 years ago
This is not NYC. So the city has a 'large' reserve.... Is that why I am paying $60 a month for water/sewer on usage of 1000 gallons? Somehow I dont think that reserve was built just on the backs of current city employees.

As most of us are dealing with stagnent wages/income it is a hard sell as I see it. Perhaps its time for all to take the 'high' road and practice some restraint.
Top
supporter
sponsor
Posted by souix (+301) 10 years ago
My water usage is 4500 gal and my bill for sewer and water is $42. Is there a different rate for various areas?
Top
Posted by sloth (+65) 10 years ago
Your water bill is based on your meter size. If you have a 5/8 meter, you have a 3,000 gallon min. rate charge. If you live in the county your rates are different. Not only that but your water bill only goes into the water and sewer dept. and it is illegal to use it for anything else but water and sewer dept projects and wages. I forgot to mention that a couple of years ago the city passed a curb stop fee of one dollar a month on your water bill also. If you have a bad stop the city will replace it.

[This message has been edited by sloth (12/31/2010)]
Top
Posted by Bruce Helland (+586) 10 years ago
I know it is based on my water line size. Just pointing out we are all contibuting to the 'pot' so to speak. I remember that water revenue was added to the general fund. Can you cite when this was changed and perhaps reference the law on this?
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
Read the city budget, it's outlined there which funds are "Enterprise Funds" meaning those departments pay their own way. You can look at last years budget here.
http://gov.milescity.net/...0Final.pdf

[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (1/1/2011)]
Top
supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14950) 10 years ago
Why are people up at 1:26 am New Years day arguing about the size of their water pipe and water revenue to the city treasury? There is a resolution lookin' for a home.

+++

After reading this thread, I believe it to be mis-titled. The correct title should be: "City council negotiation with the Mayor"... sub-titled: "We don't care what you have accomplished Mr. Mayor, you're still not from around here". Hopefully, the city proctologist will call with good news that the heads of the council have been found.

[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (1/1/2011)]
Top
Posted by sloth (+65) 10 years ago
One thing that really bothers me from this whole deal is the people complaing on here and writing in the paper really don't have a clue of what they are talking about except for what they heard at the coffee shop. People in this town don't think twice about when they turn on there water facet and get water. Do they understand what it takes for the city employees to go thru the process of making sure that drinking water is safe and delivered to that facet, NO. All they know is they go and turn it on and they have water(unless you haven't paid your bill). I have taken the test to be a certified plant operator in the past and its is a very hard test, it is set up to make you fail because they don't any joe schmo in there making your drinking water.

On the delivery end of water, what about the crews that are out there in the dead of winter working on a water break to get you your water back in service on a timely manner. Those guys are called out from there familys out there to make sure you are still provided with safe and clean drinking water, Ya sometimes it might take awhile but when you are working with 100 yr old water lines you never know what you are dealing with until you get down there.
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
There is no one on the city council including me who do not value our city employees. This issue involves whether or not to agree to and fund a raise this year. The council to a man agreed that this was not the time to give out raises given that few other government enities gave raises, the inflation rate was below 1%, and the economy in general is bad. I agree with the last post about the water department. I have always felt that our water costs are a bargin even with recent increases. We need to have extra money coming in to fund upgrades and keep it flowing. I am confident that when the council meets with the unions in the near future we can come to an agreement. I do not like the argument that it would be cheaper to just give a raise than to fight it as the increase in the budget never goes backward. What we give this year stays and is added to later on. As far as having a surplus, this is neccessary. We currently have two law suits pending against the city that we may have to pay. Past settlements were paid for by increased taxes and this may happen again if we are not prepared for it. Leif Ronning
Top
supporter
sponsor
Posted by souix (+301) 10 years ago
Does the city not have insurance to protect against lawsuits? Does the city have policies and procedures that speak to how the city is run? Also what is the rate the firemen are paid, $50,000 or $31,000?
Top
Posted by sloth (+65) 10 years ago
To my understanding, the Mayor as a REPRESENTIVE of the city offered the unions the raise increase and then the council said no. Isn't the budget the MAYORS budget when turned into the state. It will not look good to any mediator or arbitratior when they see this and also find out how much are in reserves. They will not look at the possibillty of a law suit, they will look at was offered at the table and how much is there. To me it looks like the council and the mayor need to have a heart to heart. This city won't move anywhere if the mayor says white and the council says black and its not just on this issue either
Top
Posted by Lorin Dixson (+596) 10 years ago
After reading this thread, I believe it to be mis-titled. The correct title should be: "City council negotiation with the Mayor"... sub-titled: "We don't care what you have accomplished Mr. Mayor, you're still not from around here". Hopefully, the city proctologist will call with good news that the heads of the council have been found.


Seeing this comes on the first day of the year, I think this sets a high standard for the 2011 reply of the year.
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
A couple questions for you Leif (and the council in general if you want):
"The council to a man agreed that this was not the time to give out raises given that few other government enities (sic) gave raises, the inflation rate was below 1%, and the economy in general is bad."

1) Why would what other government entities do drive this type of local decision? Shouldn't a local decision such as this be driven off of the city's projected revenues/expenditures and overall fiscal health, especially since roughly half the salary of the fire dept. personnel looks like it produced by the ambulance enterprise fund? Basing a decision on what others are doing seems rather like the lemming mentality and seems to be the easy way out.

2) Has anyone done the calculation of what this raise amounts to in
actual dollars? Talking percentages is all fine and good, but it's smoke screen unless it's accompanied by the actual dollars that it represents.

3) Where did the 1% inflation rate number come from? Is this national or local data? If it's national data, how well does it correlate with local data? How did the council decide that was an appropriate benchmark to use for a local decision? If it is local data, who produced it and how? With gasoline prices, water and sewer rate increases, etc. 1% local inflation doesn't sound right.

I'm not stating agreement or disagreement with the decisions rendered (mayors or councils), at least not yet. I'm asking that the actual factual data that the council used to reach it's decision be presented here, thus removing the emotional component from this discussion.
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
Many of the questions raised above deserve answers. That is why we have decided to go the next step of negotiation and try to get actual updated figures and facts and then try to come to an agreement. This whole process was done backwards in that the mayor negotiated a raise before money was actually appropriated for it by the financial committee. The financial committee worked long and hard and made many difficult decisions including not funding a raise this year and was then backed up by a unanimous vote of the council. The financial committee now feels vilified by some for not backing the mayor. As far as the reasons the council gave for not approving the raise, I still think they were sound. The union is asking taxpayers many of whom are living on fixed incomes, most of whom had no raises to that income in the past few years to fund a raise. Many keep bring up the surplus as the reason there should be a raise. The city is not surplus rich. We currently have a little less that half of what state statute allows us to carry for unforseen future expenses. The idea that the workers paid for this surplus is a strange way to look at this as is the idea that they are entitled to a raise because we have build up this surplus for a rainy day.
As unpleasant as this may be for some the reality is that there was little support in the community for any raise this year, let along a 3.2 % raise demanded by the fireman's union. The only sound argument for a raise that was even considered was for the police union becuase of the turnover rate. I look forward to meeting all three unions and believe it is going to go well, and look forward to arguments on both sides. Wish us luck citizens of Miles City as you are the ones tha will pay for any failure to come to an agreement.
Leif Ronning ward 4 councilperson
Top
supporter
Posted by Buck Showalter (+4461) 10 years ago
Nobody, especially paid employees doing the work of volunteers, should be asking for a pay increase in these economic conditions. Rationalise it however you'd like, but MC isn't unique in any way that justifies having more than one paid guy to mind the shop.
Top
supporter
sponsor
Posted by souix (+301) 10 years ago
The union is asking taxpayers many of whom are living on fixed incomes, most of whom had no raises to that income in the past few years to fund a raise.


Are you saying that our property taxes be going down if this raise is not funded?
Top
supporter
Posted by Stone (+1596) 10 years ago
"The union is asking taxpayers many of whom are living on fixed incomes, most of whom had no raises to that income in the past few years to fund a raise."


The fire department is sticking to its guns as we should have done. Nonetheless, the city as in the Mayor and his designated representative (last I heard the both represent the city) offered Local 283A a 2.1% raise and our union agreed to that request among many language changes that are positive towards the City.

"The idea that the workers paid for this surplus is a strange way to look at this as is the idea that they are entitled to a raise because we have build up this surplus for a rainy day."


When the Parks department goes from 5 full time employees to 3 full time employees and from 7 seasonal to 2 seasonal that is vacancy savings at its most extreme. If the work is still demanded to get done then who is paying for vacancy savings. Every department that has members in Local 283A is down on manpower except one. Especially the two departments that are in the general fund. Does that make us entitled to a raise? NO. Then do not offer the UNIONS a raise to begin with and stop being one of those (Seinfeld Reference) people that give stuff to someone and take it away later.

"I look forward to meeting all three unions and believe it is going to go well, and look forward to arguments on both sides. Wish us luck citizens of Miles City as you are the ones that will pay for any failure to come to an agreement."


Once again City employees are tax payers as are state employees, PERS retirees, military retirees, National Guard retirees, BLM retirees, and teachers. Last I heard government employees were also citizens.
Top
supporter
Posted by Buck Showalter (+4461) 10 years ago
And it's not the fault of the union or the firemen that the council and mayor can't agree, but it's an opportune time to point out that sucking sound.
Top
Posted by Bruce Helland (+586) 10 years ago
To reply to Richard: Where did anyone(besides you) in this thread mention anything about the mayor not being from MC? One advantage to not getting totally bombed on New Years Eve is to be able to come home and see if a question I have posted has been answered.
Another question: If these 'enterprise funds' are self supporting and the revenue in these funds are earmarked and protected; are these funds then considered in calculating any budget surplus?

'Coffee shop' talk or not, my question still stands.

The departments do a fine job indeed. The problem is that we are absorbing higher water rates (to pay for neaded upgrades/repairs) along with a general very tough economic climate. And yes, national economic conditions DO affect us locally.

Richard, I am so glad that you, in Gilette, are concerned about my water bill!
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
"Once again City employees are tax payers as are state employees, PERS retirees, military retirees, National Guard retirees, BLM retirees, and teachers. Last I heard government employees were also citizens."

Yes it is true that current government workers and retired government workers are also tax payers and they of course deserve a voice. I have often said if I only spoke for "leif" I would most likely be more inclined to give raises this year. The fact is I represent the citizens of my ward and so far they have been over whelmingly against giving raises this year, this has to be considered when I go into these negotiations and affect the way I opperate. Yes it is true that if government workers are given raises this year they will be more able to pay their taxes and spend money in the community, I just want them to then have a little sympathy for the old couple next door that are living on social security and have had that frozen for two years and have to fund this and future wages through their property taxes. Once again, any raises given this year goes on next years budget not just out of the surplus. I realize that if we are not able to come to an agreement during this negotiation there is a good chance the city will lose in binding arbitration and then have to pay the raise along with the cost of the binding arbitration. I have been very clear with all those who are telling me to stay firm on the no raises this year that it could end up costing them more that just giving in. If it comes to that I am going to make sure all results are well published in every media possible. Majority public opinion should not be ignored just for convinence. Leif Ronning
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
One more thing I wanted add about the fact that my actions on this issue has been not just my personal view, but trying to reflect the majority view of my ward which is in the north side of the city.
I suspect, mayby wrongly so, that the union workers particulary the firemen may have more support in the two southern wards. If this is the case for any of you it is important that you contact the representative from your ward so we get as accurant picture as to the wishes of all the citizens who will ultimately pay for these raises. I may not agree with everyone but I appreciate all the input both for and against. Leif
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
Leif,

I commend you for your effort here and in representing your ward. It's not easy being a ward/alder/councilman (or whatever the positiont be called). You have to balance what the folks in your ward/town want done with what the right thing to do for the ward/town might be based on information that YOU have that most people don't. Those two priorities often don't coincide. And as you have said, actions taken today will have impact into the future and a ward/alder/councilman really should be looking at those impacts on tomorrow before they take action today.

To do the job and do it right certainly takes a lot of time and commitment. Glad that you're getting compensated for it.

[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (1/2/2011)]
Top
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 10 years ago
Please, don't make this a rich south side/ poor north side argument. As someone who lives on the "south side," in a neighborhood which is NOT rich, with neighbors who are elderly and on fixed incomes, I hate that tendency to make it an "us vs. them" argument. There are rich and poor on both sides of town and the income of the voter is not necessarily the only issue.

What should be the issue is the proper governance of the City AS A WHOLE. Not one piece here and one piece there. Not who do you like and who you don't like. Governing the ENTIRE City is the concern of EVERY alderman.
Top
supporter
Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 10 years ago
One more thing I wanted add about the fact that my actions on this issue has been not just my personal view, but trying to reflect the majority view of my ward which is in the north side of the city.


Mr. Ronning,

I have seen you do this sort of thing on the website before and it has always bothered me. It seems to me that you put undo weight on the opinions of a few people who talk to you. You were indeed elected to represent the city, but you should make decisions for the city based upon your own judgement of what the best course is. I of course don't know how many opinions you solicit, but my money is on being able to count them on your fingers. This is not necessarily representative of your constituency, and even if it was, the general population is not informed enough on the pay scale of the fire department to have a meaningful opinion.

It's not the least bit surprising that if you ask people if the government should give more money to people that they don't know that they would say no. You are the one that knows what the firefighters are paid, when their last raise was, and whether the job is desirable enough to attract quality applicants and whether the people in those jobs are fairly compensated for their work. Your opinion on whether the raises are appropriate is far more valuable than the average citizen. You were elected to make informed decisions in the best interest of the people who elected you, not to unscientifically poll a few uninformed residents and then blindly accept their opinion.

For the record, I have no idea how much the firefighters are paid and whether or not they are deserving of a raise. It is not my job to know such things, it is the job of the city councilmen. If I did have an opinion on the matter, it could only be based on assumptions, prejudice, or petty self-interest and it would not be in the best interest of Miles City for you to make decisions based upon such an opinion.
Top
supporter
Posted by Denise Selk (+1670) 10 years ago
Levi
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
"You were indeed elected to represent the city, but you should make decisions for the city based upon your own judgement (sic) of what the best course is."

Levi, while I respect your opinion, I'll voice some disagreement with your position. Leif, in my opinion is doing what an elected official in a representative democracy should do, stay in contact with his electorate and solicit their opinion. He does bear the burden to exercise his own judgment on what is best for the city, but he also was elected to represent his ward and their view as well.

To entrust an elected official to make the required decisions exercising solely their own judgment often leads to some very bad results, many times contrary to the public good. With that type of government in place, you'll get elected officials that pursue their own agenda and are unwilling to communicate to the public, even when requested. For example, wasn't there an issue about an ambulance purchased by the county awhile back? How many people in the community were made aware that the commissioners were planning to pursue that course of action ahead of time?

I know the old adage that the workings of politics, like the making of sausage, is best done behind closed doors, but I don't buy into it. Better that the community know and get a chance to voice their opinion than be kept in the dark. If indeed the course of action the elected officials intend to take is the right one and seemingly contrary to public opinion, let them explain why and defend the actions they intend to take prior to taking it; at least that way everything is above board and on the table and people have had the chance to participate in their government.

Leif, I respect what you're doing by seeking community feedback. You seem like a reasonable guy and that you're trying to do right by the community. Keep doing what you're doing!

[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (1/3/2011)]
Top
supporter
Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 10 years ago
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with soliciting public opinion, but take a look at this thread. He got responses from a dozen people, most of which addressed issues tangential to his question. Furthermore, he doesn't even know if these people are Miles City residents (and many are not, myself included). What can he take out of this thread that would help him make a better decision? I recall a previous issue where Mr. Ronning said that he had heard from 5 or so people and was basing his vote on their feedback. He has basically said that he personally favors the raise but a few people that he has talked to do not so he may vote against his own feelings. Do you think that is a reasonable way to run the city?

If a councilman is abusing his office or using it for his own personal agenda, he should be either prosecuted or voted out of office depending on the severity of it. Nothing about asking for feedback from the community would keep him from doing that. If you talk to 10 people and 8 of them are for something and 2 are against, this is not evidence of the feelings of the city, and I would submit that most of the people in Miles City do not have the necessary information to make an informed opinion on this issue.

This is the reason that we have a city council, because it is not practical or desirable for the population of the city to be involved in every day to day decision of the government. Elected officials have to have the courage of their convictions. Letting difficult decisions be made by a handful of uninformed citizens is not doing your job as councilman.
Top
Posted by Tracee Raymond (+30) 10 years ago
I no longer live in Miles City but I still have 2 houses that I pay taxes on there and they are both currently in Ward 4. The fact is that the Mayor and Mr. Minckler sat down with the Unions and offered a 2.1% increase therefore, the Council needs to suck it up and give the City employees what was offered in good faith bargaining. Even through I do not live in Miles City I still have to pay for that increase and I gladly pay it, for the fine City employees as they do a wonderful job! If the City Council didn't want to offer a raise then they should of made that clear to the Mayor prior to negotiations. Shame on the City Council! Now they want the employees to pay for their mistake...suck it up and give the employees what they deserve!
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
Levi, I do wish more people such as yourself would run for public office. Our country in general and our community in specific need people such as yourself to serve in that capacity. We may differ in our viewpoint and opinions, but that is what makes for good government, people who have strong convictions and are willing to stand by them, just as you've said. Not knowing you, maybe you've already done your time in elected office somewhere. If so, I offer my thanks for making that contribution. If not, please consider doing so. My time was decades ago, many states away from here.

Given that, here are my responses to your questions.

"What can he take out of this thread that would help him make a better decision? I recall a previous issue where Mr. Ronning said that he had heard from 5 or so people and was basing his vote on their feedback. He has basically said that he personally favors the raise but a few people that he has talked to do not so he may vote against his own feelings. Do you think that is a reasonable way to run the city?"

Getting feedback from his constituents and thought/opinions from this forum can help develop a greater viewpoint and potential insight into an issue. Voting against his personal feelings, of course that might happen. As an elected official it is my opinion that you MUST separate your personal feelings from the business at hand and look at the situation objectively, weighing the communities wants against the communities needs. Do I think that is a reasonable way to run the city? Absolutely. My opinion.

"If a councilman is abusing his office or using it for his own personal agenda, he should be either prosecuted or voted out of office depending on the severity of it. Nothing about asking for feedback from the community would keep him from doing that. If you talk to 10 people and 8 of them are for something and 2 are against, this is not evidence of the feelings of the city, and I would submit that most of the people in Miles City do not have the necessary information to make an informed opinion on this issue."

Informed or not, the people of the town still have the right to their opinion and the absolute right to have their voice heard, especially by their elected officials. Government of, by and for the people.

And regarding corrupted officials, don't look to close, it WILL disappoint you. Try prosecuting corrupt officials sometime, it's hard to do. When the corrupt control the environment, evidence is hard to get your hands on. Even when you do, who do you report it to, the state? They have little to no jurisdictional authority over municipal elected officials (except financial and judicial officers). Too few people are aware of what happens in the halls of government as it is, locally and beyond. As a result the same elected officials retain their positions, time after time, since the public in general PERCEIVES that those officials are doing the right things, rather than KNOWING what has actually been done. Perception becomes reality, and that reality then perpetuates the corruption. My opinion.

"This is the reason that we have a city council, because it is not practical or desirable for the population of the city to be involved in every day to day decision of the government."

If my memory is correct, Alberton has essentially a truly democratic form of city government; everyone can participates and everyone can vote. Is it practical here, no, I don't think so. The reason Miles City has the form of government they do is because some time ago the citizens here did not like the City Manager form of government where the city had a professional manager running the day to day business of the city. They voted for a Mayor/Commission form in order to have a greater voice in their government. Miles City holds an almost singular distinction in Montana municipal government as a community that changed from a one form of government and than later changed back to a form almost identical to what they had originally. The people here want their say in how their community is run. My opinion.

"Letting difficult decisions be made by a handful of uninformed citizens is not doing your job as councilman."

8 out of 10 voices is a better measure than what typically happens, no input at all, or worse, input from the local watering hole or coffee klatch where the opinions are driven by personal agendas. Sit in on council or commission meetings for sometime and watch how things operate here. I think you'll come away with a desire for more people like Leif serve, those who look for ways for their community to participate. My opinion.

I've digressed off the topic of this thread for far too long. I've said my piece and while I disagree with some of your viewpoints Levi, I hope that our discussion provides others a means to find their voice as well.

Leif, I think you know where I stand. More power to you. Please continue to keep us informed and look for our input.

[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (1/3/2011)]
Top
supporter
Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 10 years ago
I have not held any sort of office, but I know from experience managing smaller groups of people that it is probably a huge pain in in the butt. That is not to say that I would never consider it, but I already have one 80 hour a week job so it probably wouldn't be practical at this stage in my life. I do appreciate those that do it though, as I am sure it is a difficult and often thankless job.
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
I solilcitated input from the taxpayers as to whether they would be for or against a raise for city employees in a letter to the Miles City Star two weeks before I soclicitated input on milescity.com. I have 39 direct replys. All were against a raise for the fire department with a few of them saying they would consider raises for the other city workers and police, but these were also small in number. I then went on milescity.com and received the above comments and would like to comment on some. The council does deserve criticsm for not being more in volved in the negotiations with the union, but we can not do anything about the past. There is a comment above by an out of town person who said they still owned two houses here and would gladly pay for the raises and my guess is that they rent the houses out at the currently inflated rates and pass on the tax burden to their renters. As the current representative from ward 4 I can not and will not make decisions based solely on my own feelings and opinions. For me to just decide that I know what is best for my ward would not be what representative government is all about. thanks again, for the input. Leif
Top
supporter
Posted by Stone (+1596) 10 years ago
Leif, I to commend you for soliciting information and for caring about your constituency. I see your point of view and look forward to our political discussions in the future.
I have two things to say on this issue and I will leave it to the Gods from here on out. Number one the raise was given to the unions by the City and then taken away by the City. Strange, but that is it in a nutshell. Mediation and or arbitration will hopefully iron this out. One can only hope that the City will change how they negotiate in the future to prevent such mishaps.

Second, hypothetically, if our economy was going great guns at this moment 100% of the people that talked to you would still vote NO on raises to public employees. You of all people should know that public employee bashing is at an all time high and is a central talking point of the Tea baggers and that conservative politicians all around the country are blaming public employees for the economic crash that we are attempting to come out of. Nonetheless, this has nothing to do with the topic at hand except as to say coffee shop people will hate public employees whether the economy is good or bad.
Top
supporter
Posted by Mike Wallick (+174) 10 years ago
Maybe in MT. Where I live, I don't hear anyone bashing firefighters, police officers, ambulance drivers and paramedics. Not one bashing word.
Top
Posted by MCFRmedic (+127) 10 years ago
I will say that you can look at things in a lot of different ways...LOL



Thanks.
Top
Posted by cg-17 (+14) 10 years ago
Out Standing!! Its really funny but sad how comedy mirrors real life. Great job
Top
supporter
Posted by Stone (+1596) 10 years ago
Mike,
That is because you Minnesotans elected a great governor by the name of Mark Dayton and you were home to the finest Senator since Mansfield in Paul Welstone, may he rest in peace.

However if you lived in Ohio you would hear things like this- Republican Governor-elect John Kasich of Ohio, stated that he would declare war on all public employees and workers employed under state contracts - a full month before taking office. This coming from the guy who received a $400,000 bonus as managing director of Lehman Brothers, the year they went bankrupt and helped collapse the economy. His rhetoric now includes statements that," the entire financial collapse was caused by overpaid public employees", not by billionaire bankers making greedy housing loans to people that could not pay for them.
Top
supporter
Posted by Bridgier (+9194) 10 years ago
I just read "The Big Short", and if ANY member of Lehman's management team has the balls to blame public employees for the financial crisis, while the creators of the "Liar's Loan", the "Interest Only Loan" or the "Floating Rate Loan" are allowed to roam free to develop and deploy other weapons of mass financial destruction, then PROCREATE THEM WITH A RUSTY RAZOR BLADE.

Ahem.

But, America gets the government it deserves, and it gets it good and hard.
Top
Posted by Tracee Raymond (+30) 10 years ago
FYI Leif, just so you know I have NOT PASSED ON THE TAX BURDEN INCREASES TO MY RENTERS NOR DO I PLAN TO EITHER! My renters have been in my house for years. I have not increased the rent when I could have. So please don't assume that I am taking advantage of the good people in Miles City. I believe that the City needs to do the right thing and give the raise that they offered in good faith.
Top
supporter
Posted by Stone (+1596) 10 years ago
Top
Posted by Pinky (+1849) 10 years ago
Mr. Ronning, I just tried to call you to inform you that I support the raise for the Firemen and I received a message that your phone numbers have been disconnected.
Is this the way the members of the city council do business?

Disconnect your phone number so the people in your ward can not get a hold of you?
My question to you is.. If the firemen are given a raise, will it raise our property taxes and if they do not get a raise will our taxes go down?

I am not sure who is informing you not to support the raise; however, I want them to get a raise!

Thank you for your time and sorry I could not speak to by phone. Please do the right thing from one of the members in your ward.

[This message has been edited by Pinky (1/6/2011)]

[This message has been edited by Pinky (1/6/2011)]
Top
supporter
Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 10 years ago
The fairest thing should be that the firemen get a raise every time they save a building from burning down. Yes, I went there.
Top
Posted by Joe Whalen (+612) 10 years ago
Yes, you did.

So, let's start with Stockhill's Jewelers, Big Sky Pharmacy, Stockman Bank, Texas Club, Lighthouse Books, and City Hall - all of which were adjoined to the structures lost in the Arnold Block fire or stood in the ember plume to the immediate south of it on a very windy day.
Top
supporter
Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 10 years ago
I apologize for my snarky remark. My Miles City brain tends to be stuck in the 70s and 80s. I meant it to be humorous and it was only insulting. I know that firefighting is a dangerous job and truly admire those who do it for a living. Mea culpa.
Top
Posted by Leif Ronning (+64) 10 years ago
"Mr. Ronning, I just tried to call you to inform you that I support the raise for the Firemen and I received a message that your phone numbers have been disconnected.
Is this the way the members of the city council do business?"

I posted my phone number in the paper in a letter to the editor after I dumped my land line. It is 853-5823. I have added you to the collum of supporters for the raise. Several of the council seats are up for re-election this year and this would be a great opportunity for residents of Miles City who have disagreed with the council or the Major to get involved and help make changes your feel are needed.

It cannot be argued against that fire department has a major public relations/image problem with the public in Miles City. Chief Rogers, who recently retired, made the effort and in fact was making some headway in reaching out to educate the populace and improve the image of the department. We will soon have a new fire chief and I hope that individual continues with the effort to improve the public perception of the the department.

As to the comment above that the individual owned two houses in Miles City and did not pass on tax increases to their renters. You are to be commended for this, but I made the assumtion that you did what most landlords in Miles City have done in recent years and raised the rent when the supply started to dwindle in contrast to increased demand. I have always been irritated when I hear the comment that renters do not pay taxes. Almost all renters pay taxes through the rent sent to their landlord who then uses part of that rent to pay the taxes.
Top
Posted by Joe Whalen (+612) 10 years ago
Thank you, Wendy.
Top
Posted by K. D. (+362) 10 years ago
So, let's start with Stockhill's Jewelers, Big Sky Pharmacy, Stockman Bank, Texas Club, Lighthouse Books, and City Hall - all of which were adjoined to the structures lost in the Arnold Block fire or stood in the ember plume to the immediate south of it on a very windy day.


WOW So based on that, everytime I do something in my job description, I, along with every other working person, should get a raise?

[This message has been edited by K. D. (1/7/2011)]
Top
Posted by Steve Allison (+981) 10 years ago
As someone who seats near a call scanner most of the day, it is important to remember the firefighters are also our ambulance crews and this is most of their calls by far. They maintain a certification higher them Montana code requires. Is this a level of care you are willing to give up? Lower pay can mean better people go elsewhere and you end up hiring less qualified people to fill continuing vacancies. Maybe the way to lower costs is to look into ways of reducing the overtime hours. It might be a solution as simple as hiring more and, or looking into changing the way shifts are scheduled, I don't know how they work now so don't know for sure but it might be worth looking into. Tossing out a deal worked out over seven months and paying someone to come in and start the process over may not be the best way to go about this.
Top
supporter
Posted by Mike Wallick (+174) 10 years ago
Source http://www.indeed.com/sal...hter&l1=mt

Average wage of firefighter in:

MT- $44,000
ID- $37,000
WY- $54,000
ND- $45,000
SD- $41,000
Miles City- $33,000 with this data attached- Average Firefighter salaries for job postings in Miles City, MT are 27% lower than average Firefighter salaries for job postings nationwide.
Top
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 10 years ago
Excuse me, Mr. Wallick, are you inserting FACTS into this discussion! Surely you know better than that!
Top
Posted by K. D. (+362) 10 years ago
http://www.city-data.com/...ntana.html

OOOPS, more facts...
I see that this site says $48,946/year/fire fighter in Miles City in 2007. So, isn't this almost $5,000/year/fire fighter above the State average from the above information?

[This message has been edited by K. D. (1/7/2011)]
Top
Posted by Joe Smity (+114) 10 years ago
Instead of throwing figures from sites whose sources of data are unknown and not quantifiable, why don't you go to city hall and ask to see the city's budget? It is publicly available you know, and from that you'll find the actual numbers.
Top
supporter
Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 10 years ago
Several of the council seats are up for re-election this year and this would be a great opportunity for residents of Miles City who have disagreed with the council or the Major to get involved and help make changes your feel are needed.


I was sort of shocked when I read the paper after the last city council elections. If I recall correctly, most of the council were elected by around 200 votes per person? So only 5-10% of the city actually turns out to vote for their city council?
Top
Posted by K. D. (+362) 10 years ago
Instead of throwing figures from sites whose sources of data are unknown and not quantifiable, why don't you go to city hall and ask to see the city's budget? It is publicly available you know, and from that you'll find the actual numbers.


You are 100% correct, and that was the point I was trying to make. I am sure that you can find sites that say they make anywhere from $12,000-$100,000 per year if you looked hard enough.

Not tryin to get off subject.
I guess the post above from the Mayor commending the MC firefighters for a job well done on Main Street has me somewhat irked. What about the firefighters from surrounding communities that helped put it out? If they hadn't been here, I am positive that the MC fire fighters wouldn't have been able to save half as much as they did. Are these other fire fighters volunteer, and if they are not, should they get a raise as commented from the Mayor above? Did they get compensated for thier help?

[This message has been edited by K. D. (1/8/2011)]
Top