July 26, 2014 at 1:00 am


Raises done right in Oakland

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is proposing a general 3 percent increase in employee salaries for fiscal 2015.

The hikes would be followed by 2 percent in 2016 and 1 percent in 2017. The dual purpose for the raises is to attract new staffers to replace retiring ones, and also compensate for the reductions and smaller boosts in pay over the past 10 years because of the recession.

What’s most noteworthy about the raises is that Oakland County has not been frivolous in granting them. Good fiscal budgeting and management has placed Oakland in a position to provide the increases.

County officials have been leaders in budgeting several years in advance and making adjustments when needed, as opposed to the knee-jerk changes — usually cuts — that most municipalities authorize when budgets get tight.

When local governments are prudent in their budgeting, both taxpayers and employees benefit.

Keeping Oakland safe

Oakland County is the latest in a growing number of counties and municipalities that are offering residents a chance to be part of a high-tech emergency alert system.

Those who sign up for the Oakland County Emergency Notification System (OakAlert) will receive — by email or cell phone — information on a variety of situations, from road closings and chemical spills to severe weather warnings.

The system will cost about $30,000 a year and will be operated through the Oakland County Homeland Security Division.

Other counties, including Wayne, as well as several local municipalities already have similar systems. Oakland officials say the county system can be coordinated with local warning networks.

This service is a good option for residents who want to receive the notifications. In emergency situations, rapid distribution of warnings and other helpful information will boost public safety.

Inherent dangers with exotic pets

Neither people nor animals benefit when exotic creatures are kept in private captivity.

The most recent incident involves a male white-nosed coati — a South American mammal that is in the raccoon family.

It was euthanized after officials learned it had briefly escaped from its cage in a Warren garage and bitten a man, placing the individual at risk of rabies.

Officials said the only way to see if the animal was rabid was to kill it. It turned out no sign rabies was found.

The coati was one of 29 malnourished exotic animals being kept in cages in the garage. They were confiscated and given to the Detroit Zoo.

Keeping exotic animals as pets carries too large a risk to domestic animals and people.

At best, such creatures should be kept in zoos, where professionals know how to care for them properly.