CENTERVILLE -- City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday to move ahead with a plan that will raise the mayor and council’s salaries by $100 each a month.
Councilman Cameron Andrews said council members’ salary is now $200 a month and would be raised to $300, or $3,600 a year. He said the mayor’s is $400 each month and would become $500, or $6,000 a year.
Andrews and Councilman Ed Tucker voted for the measure. Councilmen Randall Wright and Bob Smith voted against. Mayor John Harley, who brought up the discussion on increasing salaries, broke the tie by voting in favor of the plan.
The vote calls for City Attorney Rebecca Tydings to draw up an amendment to the city’s pay policy for mayor and council for a first reading as early as the board’s next meeting July 19. That would allow for a deciding vote at its Aug. 2 meeting.
Harley said any pay raise would not go into effect until January 2012. He said bringing the measure to a vote soon allows the issue to be settled prior to the beginning of qualifying for council posts at the end of August, as required by law.
Harley said there had been no increase in mayor and council salaries since 1990. He said the increase was a minimal one, but it was a step in the right direction.
“A lot of us don’t need it,” Harley said, “but it is progress and may provide incentive for others to seek political office. It seems to me that it’s necessary.
“Compared to others who serve in the county and other cities in the area, this is still just a symbolic increase, but something we should go ahead and do.”
Andrews said the city’s current budget, which is the first in recent history that doesn’t require borrowing to accomplish, can more than handle the pay increases.
“Our mindset on budget matters is to do better and better, and we’re doing that,” Andrews said. “But our contingency fund can more than cover this, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Tucker, who is a Georgia Army National Guardsman currently deployed overseas, attended the meeting and cast his vote via Skype. Touching on the political sensitivity of a pay increase, he said work done by council was valuable, and it was time for the increase. He said he and Andrews were the only two of the group up for re-election.
“If people want me out due to a $100 a month pay increase, so be it,” he said.
Wright said he joined council in 1990. At that time, there wasn’t a full-time city administrator or city attorney as there is now, he said, and there were three meetings a month instead of the current two. He said if anything, councilmen’s jobs had gotten easier, and he didn’t see the need for a pay raise.
Smith said, “I can’t justify us getting a raise. Thanks to our fine city employees and the job they do, there’s no real reason for us to get more. Give it to them.”
The new plan will drop extra pay now given to the city’s mayor pro tem, a sitting member of council. All council members agreed the extra pay was unwarranted for that role.