I leave on a vacation and the whole El Paso world just blows up! Here are my thoughts.
First, it's a good idea to have elected positions pay enough to attract candidates of all kinds. I don't think anyone should get rich being an elected official, but I also don't think they should be put in the poor house either. Voters want more choices other than retirees and rich people. You also would like to eliminate the need to take bribes in order to stay financially sound.
What does that all mean in the context of the county commissioners of El Paso???? It means they should likely make more money.
It's how you go about getting that money and the related actions of the commissioners in the recent past that is a sticking point for me and others.
The tide should raise all boats. This means there are a lot of working parts to the county - the commissioners do the least of the heavy lifting. They sit once a week and basically give staff new direction. Staff not only has to dig the ditch, but usually figure out how long, wide and deep is has to be. The commissioners don't dabble in that part of the work. Show the public those people are where they need to be salary wise and then we can talk commissioner's salary.
Despite what others are saying, it could have been put to a vote. While the rules say the county commissioners are the ones to give themselves raises, it doesn't mean they couldn't put the question on the next ballot as a guide for their future actions. They have the authority to put questions on the ballot as a guide for their actions. Many local governments do this. In a similar, but not identical situation, the El Paso City Council put the police and fire pension to the voters when they could have made the decisions themselves without voter input. Again, the county commissioners could have put a resolution on the ballot.
They didn't put it to the voters because they know that not only would it go down in flames, they'd have it used against them in their next election. If you want a raise, leave the voters out of it.
I also think it's funny that the same people who called for the city manager's raise to be a ballot question (which is completely non-binding and not how it works) are now saying it's illegal to do the same with an actual elected official's salary. Come on guys - remember what you said and keep your new comments in line with that. You're starting to sound a lot like The Donald.
My last point is about size and performance (get your minds out of the gutter). Ultimately the county has a advantage in power given state law. However, they lack the jurisdiction over much of the county because the city is so large. The city has the bigger budget, the larger population to serve and ultimately the bigger risk/reward monkey on their back. It's a unique position for El Paso and few other cities and counties around the state. That means you can't go comparing yourself to all other counties. A real study on how the county commissioners line up in responsibility with very similar communities around the state.
I'm not saying the studies will say they are wrong. I'm just saying the public would feel a lot better with some charts and graphs that are easy to read showing the facts.
Now back to my vacation.