So the Bend City Council wants to pay bonuses to city employees plus a cost of living raise. When was the last time most of us got either? Apparently, for the city at least, the recession is over and we just haven’t heard about it.

I’m not against merit pay in principle. In fact, I might even support a plan to give more money to city employees who “demonstrate exceptional performance,” if we could find them. Most experiences with city employees I’ve had have been universally underwhelming. Maybe the employees who put forth “discretionary effort” are in the back room when I call or come to city hall.

Good for the gander, too. If there are exceptional employees, there are certainly slackers. Fund bonuses by docking the pay of yawning shovel-leaners, bumbling bureaucrats, surly pencil-pushers and clueless kitten-video watchers who are also on the payroll.

And please, no “A-for-effort” bonuses — make the criteria measurable, with quantifiable benefits to taxpayers. If the work is truly exceptional, there will be cost savings that might justify a fatter pay envelope.

Don’t let any foxes in the henhouse, either. Form a taxpayer committee (after all, it’s our money) to determine if an employee really goes “above and beyond” their union contract-imposed work rules. The last thing we need is co-workers clutching the taxpayers’ checkbook with (red) pen poised.

Scott Linden