Much Ado About Nothing: Non-binding resolution a waste of Parkersburg City Council’s time

Parkersburg City Council has enough real work to get done without wasting the amount of time that has been spent on discussion of a non-binding resolution that appears to have been designed to do nothing more than telegraph council members’ intent during the budget hearing process.

Mayor Tom Joyce was absolutely correct to say to them, “We need to be cautious with setting expectations, and I quite frankly think this entire resolution as it was crafted initially is unrealistic.”

It appears as though the idea was to give council members an opportunity to tell the public, “Hey, WE want to give city workers raises. WE want to bring wages up to where they are competitive … if that doesn’t happen later it isn’t because of what WE had in mind …”

That’s nonsense. Taxpayers are already well aware that decisions about things like raises for city employees have to be made based on the amount of money available — and the amount of money that can reasonably be expected to be available in years to come.

Councilman John Reed, the man who proposed the resolution in the first place, backtracked at Tuesday’s meeting, saying “I just don’t want anybody to get false hopes. I think it’s unrealistic, to be honest with you, to think that revenues will go up … year after year.”

Of course it is unrealistic, which begs the question, what was the point of all this?

Reed himself demonstrated both the problematic nature of such a resolution, but also it’s likely true purpose, when council voted to amend the resolution to apply only to the upcoming 2019-20 fiscal year.

“I didn’t want to make people think that we were approving four or five years of a pay raise,” he said. But then, “Certainly, if we could follow that, I think it would be great.”

OK. We get it. Though the language of the resolution on which council has spent so much time means absolutely nothing, the intent is to make sure voters know council would give folks more money each year, if they could.

Council will have plenty of real work to do when budget hearings begin in March.