City employees work for their residents


The Cortland mayor’s office recently brought the curbside brush pickup policy to city residents’ attention, while, at the same time, “spanking” those who might be taking advantage of the policy.

My issue isn’t with the policy for proper brush pickup, but rather the intent and demeaning attitude the city showed toward Cortland residents in a recent publication. After specifying “when” brush must be placed at the curbside, making sure to specify that residents can’t add to it during the week even if it hasn’t been picked up yet, the mayor’s office made clear to inform residents, “This is a free service offered as a courtesy to our residents,” and residents should be courteous to those providing this service or it may be canceled.

First, city officials should realize they are employees of the city. Their obligations in exchange for their lucrative salaries all city residents pay is to serve and work on behalf of all city residents. We, the residents, are not here to serve them, their demands or their wishes. Their jobs are not guaranteed and literally are at the discretion of residents who provide their salaries and benefits.

To be so condescending to city residents by stating that any service provided to residents is done so “free” and as a “courtesy” and may be terminated if residents don’t comply, is nothing short of tyrannical and unappreciative to those who provide her salary. Nothing the city provides to its residents is a courtesy or free. Residents pay for every city-provided service. In fact, the city should be doing more and providing more for the amount of funding residents provide to the city.

For as long as I have lived in this city, it isn’t hard to find any given number of residents with complaints about what the city does or doesn’t do. This attitude is backwards. It is what’s wrong with the attitude in general of municipal governments and its employees. There is and has been little to no accountability to residents, regardless of where you live.

It is the job of elected officials — elected to represent residents of the city, not the employees of the city — to set a proper ethical standard among employees and instill the attitude that a city can never provide enough to its residents and that employees work for the residents. Residents do not exist for the benefit of employees. If elected officials did their jobs in this regard, city employees might better come to realize and appreciate what city residents do provide for them.

A novel idea would be for elected officials to start offering accountability to the residents they represent.




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