City council members last week narrowly approved new salaries for the mayor and council after months of disagreements over what constituted “equitable” pay.
Council members approved their finance committee’s recommendation of new salaries of $1,075 per month for the council — $12,900 annually — and $3,300 per month for the mayor – or $39,600 annually beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
The action came after several months of discussion and disputes over what Mayor Harvey Persons called “a fair and equitable compensation” could be determined.
The council and mayor formerly were paid on a per-meeting basis. A grand jury earlier this year recommended an end to the practice because some members were found to be not entitled to some past payments.
Larry Yockey, the mayor pro-tem, had presented another proposal to pay each council member $1,000 monthly and the mayor $3,000 monthly.
He said in a recent finance committee meeting before the vote that Douglasville mayors “for the last 15 to 17 years” earned a salary two and a half times what a council member earned.
He said many cities also opted to pay their mayors two and a half times what their council members earned. What Yockey proposed was a mayor salary three times more than a council member, he said.
“I think we’re being, I don’t want to say generous, but we are,” he said.
He also said Sandy Springs City Council – with a budget almost four times the size of Douglasville’s – paid its mayor $40,000 and council $16,000 apiece.
However, Persons said he had done a great deal of research on the issue. Yockey’s claim most cities paid mayors 2.5 times council members was “an urban myth,” the mayor said.
“It’s a matter of which city you want to pick,” he said. “Nothing says that’s what it should be.”
Finance committee chairman Mark Adams said responsibilities differed between the mayor and council members.
“I think there’s some fairness that needs to be looked at with the mayor,” Adams said.
The council ultimately approved an amount for the mayor that was more than three times the amount for a council member.
Councilman Mark Adams, Councilwoman LaShun Burr Danley and Councilmen Sam Davis and Dennis McLain voted for the new salaries, while Councilmen Doug Lequire, Carl Pope and Yockey voted against it.