Columbia County officials have done an outstanding job this year of lowering employee costs across the board while reorganizing and streamlining county departments.
From deputies to clerks to water-meter readers, our county has great employees. And we certainly don't begrudge them receiving a modest pay raise, especially in departments where fewer staffers are doing the jobs of more people.
But there just is no way to avoid the perception that government workers are seeing light at the end of the recession tunnel a lot sooner than working stiffs in the private sector.
Maybe that's why it was a little humorous when former Columbia County commissioner Tommy Mercer returned to the commission chambers Tuesday night to urge his former colleagues to give raises to county employees; for years, the white-bearded Mercer has dressed up to play Santa Claus at Christmas.
There undoubtedly are quite a few laid-off taxpayers and cash-strapped Columbia County citizens who might be a little skeptical of the idea of giving government employees a raise right now, even if it's well-deserved. But commissioners granted one anyway.
Really, though, none of us should be surprised. A recent story said federal workers have gotten huge pay hikes in the past few months. In spite of cutbacks and furloughs, school employees in Georgia received regularly scheduled raises this year.
It's the rest of us - you know, the ones who work in the private sector to pay the taxes that provide funding for those government workers - who are struggling with pay that's been frozen, reduced or eliminated altogether with record-high unemployment. Heck, even Social Security recipients are denied a cost-of-living hike next year.
So, where's our Santa Claus?
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