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Leading by example

By Staff | Feb 4, 2009

Times are tough.

In this economy, it’s a little difficult to imagine that anyone out there hasn’t been affected in one way or another by the recession, either directly or indirectly. Everybody has a friend or loved one who has been laid off or can’t find a job. Somebody you know may have lost a good portion – if not most – of their investment portfolio.

One of the signs that things may be turning around, if not economically but philosophically, happened right here on Sanibel earlier this week. City Manager Judie Zimomra and City Attorney Kenneth Cuyler each announced a self-imposed salary cut of 15 percent. Both reported that they have done this independently and without direction from or consultation with any fellow city staff members.

The moves will save the City of Sanibel more than $55,000 in annual salary expenses, with Zimomra’s share – $28,350 per year – directed to the city’s Public Works Department.

“I believe that during these stark economic times, managers have a moral obligation to lead in sacrifice,” Zimomra said in a press release issued on Monday. “I am fortunate to have been born to hard-working, blue-collar parents, thus I am well-aware of the value of a paycheck to the families of our laborers.”

In the past several months, Zimomra implemented several cost-cutting measures during preparations of the 2008-09 city budget, where more than $1.5 million was trimmed from the initially proposed budget. That allowed the city’s millage rate to actually drop this fiscal year, a rare occurance in any economic period.

We praised her wise and responsible actions at the time in this space, so these latest moves by both Zimomra and Cuyler cannot be praised highly enough. They are leading by example, showing not just the residents of this island that we should all consider making some personal sacrifices for the better good of our community, but setting a precedent for other responsible public officials – here in Southwest Florida or anywhere in the United States.

We hope that School Superintendent Jim Browder and County Manager Don Stilwell take note, too.

– Reporter editorial