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Editorial: Farmington salary investigation outcome was predictable

If anyone had asked us, we probably could have told them back at the beginning what would come of the city of Farmington's investigation of raises received over the years by several city employees. The raises, while in some cases seemingly outsized, were given in accordance with city policy.

That's what an independent law firm found in an investigation made public this week. Fifteen years ago, the report stated, the city gave its city administrator -- and by extension any interim administrators -- the power to hand out raises. That's what the administrator did.

In essence, the city paid someone at least $8,300 to read its own city code back to it.

Council members have argued that raises were given without the knowledge of council members, but according to the investigation that could only have been because the people on the council at the time were not paying enough attention.

"The investigation concluded that the Council tacitly approved the employee raises by approving ... individual department budgets as part of the yearly budget process," the report reads.

In other words, the information was there if anyone took the time to look for it.

These raises have been a big issue in recent months, and it's not hard to understand why. Nobody's likely to run into serious objection when they suggest government employees are paid too much. There was little discussion of the fact that the city grew significantly over the period in question, or that in some cases employees' responsibilities changed. Both of those things should affect salary.

Ultimately, we believe council members were asking the wrong question. Rather than asking if the raises were illegal, a question council members could have answered pretty easily on their own, they should have been asking if the current salaries of those employees were in line with the jobs they are doing. If they are, then how they got to that point is significantly less relevant.

There is certainly nothing wrong with keeping an eye on how the city spends its money. But we believe this is a case of a little suspicion getting out of control and ultimately leading the city to spend money it didn't need to spend.