BY TIM COTTON, COUNTY CHAIR FOR THE ST. JOSEPH COUNTY LIBERTARIAN PARTY
As the County Chair for the St Joseph Libertarian Party, I am a staunch advocate of conservative libertarian values. I believe in limited government, individual liberties, and free markets. This includes a severe bias against using tax money unnecessarily, which from a Libertarian viewpoint consists of almost any money that has been taken from taxpayers under the threat of force (if we don’t pay). Today, I am actually making the argument in favor of salary increases for the county clerk, county auditor, and county assessor in St. Joseph County. By aligning their compensation with comparable state-wide salaries, we can ensure fair remuneration, attract top talent, and foster a robust democratic system that benefits all residents.
One of the fundamental tenets of a free market is fair compensation for work performed. Aligning the salaries of county clerks, auditors, and assessors with their state-wide counterparts reflects a commitment to meritocracy. A salary increase would attract highly qualified individuals to these essential positions, encouraging competent professionals to dedicate their talents to public service. As a working Quality Engineer in St Joseph County, my average expected yearly salary is greater than the actual salary previously earned by the County Assessor by over $10k, and the County Auditor & Clerk by $5k. My sole income is responsible for supporting a family of four. My family lives by modest but comfortable means with one vehicle payment, and mortgage payments on a rural home that is increasing every year. If myself, as a politically active person in the county, ran for local office, I would be restricted to running for an office that was either part-time or take a pay-cut. A pay-cut would quickly take my family from living fairly comfortably to wondering how far we could stretch our dollar.
How do we expect citizen involvement in our city and county democratic processes if those interested in office have financial barriers preventing them from running? By offering salaries that are competitive with those in other regions, St. Joseph County avoids the potential loss of talented individuals to neighboring counties or the private sector. A well-paid workforce increases the likelihood of recruiting and retaining individuals with the necessary expertise and experience to execute their responsibilities effectively. This includes involvement with our local political parties. In turn, this ensures the smooth operation of our democratic institutions.
Salaries that compare with the state average promote professionalism and efficiency within the county government. When public officials receive compensation that reflects the importance of their roles, they are more likely to exhibit a greater sense of commitment, accountability, and diligence. Higher salaries motivate individuals to perform at their best, facilitating the provision of high-quality services to St. Joseph County residents. In turn, this also attracts new blood to our county offices and elected positions. Increase of electoral competition by making the position more attractive will be beneficial to
all residents of St Joseph County.
Moreover, attracting qualified professionals to these positions enhances the overall skill level of the county workforce. A well-trained and knowledgeable staff leads to greater efficiency, streamlining bureaucratic processes and reducing unnecessary costs. By compensating county clerks, auditors, and assessors at a level that reflects their expertise, we should expect increased productivity, improved service delivery, and a more effective democratic system.
Maintaining a strong democratic system relies on promoting transparency, integrity, and accountability. Adequate compensation plays a pivotal role in curbing corruption and ensuring that public officials prioritize the interests of the community over personal gain. Aligning salaries with state averages reduces the temptation for unethical behavior, making it less likely that officials will succumb to external influences. By increased competition, more eyes are on each office, putting the elected positions under a microscope by opposing political parties.
By elevating the financial rewards of these positions, we incentivize these elected offices to operate with utmost integrity. A fair salary not only encourages honesty but also discourages illicit activities that can undermine the democratic process. Ultimately, St. Joseph County residents will benefit from increased trust in their government and a system that remains true to its core principles.
In a democratic society, citizens must have confidence in the fairness and competence of their elected officials. By providing a salary increase these elected positions, St. Joseph County sends a powerful message: We value the vital work these individuals do and recognize their integral role in preserving the democratic fabric of our community.
By aligning local salaries with state averages, St. Joseph County will ensure that these elected offices are desirable and competitive. This step encourages public servants to continue dedicating themselves to their roles, further bolstering the democratic system. The result will be a strengthened government that better serves the interests and needs of the people it represents.
As a conservative Libertarian, I firmly believe that empowering individuals and upholding the principles of limited government are key to a thriving democratic system. By advocating for a salary increase for county clerks, auditors, and assessors to comparable state-wide levels, we promote fair compensation, professionalism, accountability, and the preservation of democratic institutions in St. Joseph County. It is through such measures that we can build a robust and effective government that serves the interests of all residents, ensuring a brighter future for our community.