Aldermen getting pay raises

Published 6:49 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An effort to remove aldermen from new budget pay raise plansfailed Tuesday night and board members went on to includethemselves in a 5 percent pay increase move for all cityemployees.

After the board approved 50 cents a month increases each in thecity’s water, sewer and solid waste rates, Ward Four AldermanShirley Estes offered a motion that aldermen be excluded from agetting a pay raise in the new budget that takes effect Oct. 1. Sheand Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan, who seconded the motion, saidit was a “good faith” effort to be mindful of economic conditionsfacing citizens and the community.

Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates questioned why the board should beremoved and Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell pointed out thatcongressmen and state lawmakers are able to approve raises forthemselves.

“We have that situation whether we like it or not,” Maxwellsaid.

Maxwell said removing aldermen would only save $797 a year perboard member, or $5,579 overall. An alderman’s salary is scheduledto go from $15,917 this year to $16,714 next year.

“I reserve the right to stand on principle,” Estes said.

Bates indicated that salaries are at a good point and needed tostay that way to be attractive to potential office-seekers in theyears ahead.

“It’s not about who fills the seat now, it’s about who fills it inthe future,” said Bates, adding that if the board was going to pickand choose who gets raises, then none should be given.

Maxwell accused Estes of “grandstanding” and she was questionedagain on why she was opposed to the board member pay hikes. Estessaid current economic conditions were not stable enough to justifythem.

“It’s a small way of making a dent,” she said.

After some clarification on the wording of Estes’ motion, it failedby a vote of 3-4. Ward Six Alderman David Phillips joined Estes andSullivan in support while Maxwell, Bates, Ward One’s Dorsey Cameronand Ward Three’s Mary Wilson were against it.

A motion was then offered to give all city employees 5 percentraises. It passed 6-0-1, with Estes abstaining.

“I’m not going to vote no for all the other city employees,” Estessaid.

The mayor’s salary is scheduled to go from $61,880 this year to$65,000 next year. Overall, the 5 percent across the board payraises will cost approximately $233,000 in the new city budget.