Macon City Council’s Ordinances and Resolutions Committee failed Monday to vote Mayor Robert Reichert’s proposed employee pay scale onto Tuesday night’s agenda, leaving the proposal in murky waters.
Two of the committee’s eight members were absent Monday. Of the six who attended, four of them -- Miriam Paris, Larry Schlesinger, Virgil Watkins and Charles Jones -- voted in favor of placing the pay scale issue on the agenda, while committee Chairman James Timley and Councilwoman Elaine Lucas voted against it. Five committee votes are needed to put the matter on the agenda for a vote by the full 15-member council.
The ordinance, proposed by Reichert, would replace the city’s organizational charts for all city departments in order to introduce a new pay scale.
The measure was approved last week by the council’s Employee Development and Compensation Committee and is still scheduled to be reviewed Tuesday at a called meeting of the council’s Appropriations Committee.
Monday’s committee vote doesn’t mean the proposal is dead, however. Reichert said any council member who disagrees with the committee’s decision to keep the item off the agenda can make a motion Tuesday to have the issue considered by the full council.
The council also could call for a special full council meeting next Tuesday during the last week of the year.
Lucas has been the most vocal critic of the mayor’s proposed pay scale, which she called “discriminatory” and “unfair.” Reichert’s plan -- based on recommendations from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government -- proposes to establish a system of pay grades for all city positions. No salaries would be cut, though some salaries judged to be overpaid would be frozen until the rest of the pay structure caught up. The administration said 58 of the city’s 1,250 employees would be affected by the freeze.
Lucas proposed two different options -- a $500 bonus to every employee or a $1,400 raise to every city employee. Both of those options would exclude elected officials.
Her proposals failed to get any support during last week’s Employee Development and Compensation Committee meeting. Monday, both of those proposals failed to get on the agenda for lack of support. Timley made a motion for the $500 bonus, which no one seconded. No one made a motion for the $1,400 raise.
The pay-scale issue punctuated a fairly contentious day between Reichert and some council members. During Monday’s regular Appropriations Committee meeting, a resolution to defund the position of a business and economic development specialist for the city was tabled for two weeks.
Councilman Rick Hutto, who wasn’t present Monday, sponsored the resolution because he has said he thinks Reichert circumvented the council by not getting changes in the job description approved before making them -- specifically adding the title of Main Streets director to the job description.
Reichert said Monday that’s not the case.
Rather, he said he thinks the changes fall under the purview of the administration, not the council.
“This is, purely and simply, a charter crisis,” Reichert said. “I make changes all the time. ... We’re changing the routes the garbage trucks take. Are they going to have to approve that?”
Lucas disagreed with the interpretation.
“If the position changes in name, salary or job description, no mayor has the power to make those changes,” she said. “I think this is a pattern of the mayor implementing things, and there’s a crybaby effect when we caught him doing wrong.”
Councilwoman Nancy White said she is in favor of the mayor’s changes to the position because she thinks the Main Street Program -- designed by the state’s Department of Community Affairs to encourage business development in a city -- is important to Macon’s future.
“I think it’s important for us to maintain,” she said.
In other business Monday, the Appropriations Committee approved an ordinance to appropriate $1,172,423 for an 800 megahertz, E-911 communications system. It would be the first payment toward a three-tiered plan by the city to pay for the system, Finance Director Tom Barber said.
The committee also approved using money to close out operating costs for fiscal 2010.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.