Warner Robins council votes down raises for mayor, themselves

WARNER ROBINS – Warner Robins City Council on Monday evening voted down a $25,000 raise for the city’s mayor.

The panel also unanimously voted against a pay increase for the council.

“Public service is not about pay,” Mayor Donald Walker said during the meeting.

“It’s not about how much money you make or how much you can get out of it. Now is not the time. It’s not saying the right thing to our people. Some can’t pay their rent. Some can’t pay their car payments. But we’re gonna raise it because we can? That’s bull.”

Only councilmen Terry Horton and John Havrilla voted to increase the mayor’s pay.

“We have a strong-mayor government,” Havrilla said at Monday night’s meeting. “He’s like a city manager, or a city executive. There are city managers in cities smaller than us who make about $190,000. The salary is certainly in line with what cities are paying for those positions today.”

Council members presently make $5,000 annually, and receive annual car allowances of $3,400. The last time council members received a raise was 1997. The mayor’s salary had been increased in 2007 from $50,000 to $100,000.

But the drama surrounding the votes unfolded during precouncil proceedings earlier in the afternoon when a dozen protesters stormed the meeting.

Local radio personality Chris Krok, host of the show “Kroktalk,” which comes on weekdays on News/Talk 940 AM (WMAC), marched in ahead of the protesters, all wearing buttons and holding signs that said “No Raises” in big, bold letters.

“You may think you deserve (raises), but we don’t,” Krok said. “We are getting furloughed. I’ve been furloughed. The unemployment rate in the state is 10 percent. What in the heck are you smoking?”

“In two or three years, if they want to look at (raises), fine,” Krok said after the precouncil session.

“If you’re in this to get money, get the heck out of the door.”

Other residents and several council members voiced their opinions on the matter as well.

“The mayor of the city is a full-time job,” Horton said. “There’s no city manager. There’s no city administrator. He does it all. This mayor doesn’t want a raise, but this is not intended for Donald Walker. This is for whoever will be mayor.”

Krok mentioned that there are some politicians who have worked, at times, for free.

“Everybody that wants to be mayor can’t work for $1 a year,” Horton said.

Said Havrilla: “It’s the job, not the man.”

To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 923-6199, extension 235.