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Cost of doing business – Our view: Who gets it both ways?

Like it or not, there is a cost of doing business these days.
For reasons that are at best befuddling, the balance between labor and management has shifted toward labor. We offer the $18 per hour wage a convenience store is offering as a starting wage for arguably unskilled labor. Yet for some reason, some of our local elected representatives don’t see it.
Or, they just don’t want to admit there’s a problem and deal with it.
This past week, the McLeod County Board approved a 3 percent raise for itself, county attorney and sheriff. In most cases, local boards handle their business reasonably well. But when it comes time to set their own wages, they are, well, clumsy.
The county based the rationale for the 3 percent increase on wage hikes given or negotiated with other employee groups. Meanwhile, inflation is running around 6½ percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Commissioner Doug Krueger, the county board chairman, complained the increases he voted for won’t draw the quality of candidates needed for the importance of the job. Representing McLeod County on the Trailblazer Joint Powers Board, the same Commissioner Krueger and Commissioner Daryl Luthens opposed the recommended 6½ percent cost of living adjustment and 7½ percent wage increase for a “pandemic adjustment” intended to retain and attract quality candidates at a time when the transit provider reduced its services beneath the transit provider’s own self-imposed 90 percent threshold for meeting demand for service.
We understand the commissioners don’t like raising wages too high. But they have to be realistic. If they want quality candidates and workers to provide the services people demand, for now, there is a cost to meet that expectation.
They can’t have it both ways.
For years, the county held its property tax levy at no increase or even at a reduced level. Taxpayers loved it. Then, an expensive, undeniable need arose and the levy comparably skyrocketed to fund meeting the need. Taxpayers hated it.
Until the imbalance between need and demand evens out, we would hope our leaders should recognize if incremental increases are systematically implemented, there shouldn’t be the gnashing of teeth over the gulf between want and need. It seems that’s where the marketplace is at these days.

- jm