Five city residents and one from unincorporated Douglas County spoke out against the resolution during a Thursday public hearing. No one spoke in support of the resolution, which would have given the council members a 37 percent increase in pay.
The salary proposal set to be voted on Monday night included a council monthly compensation of $1,250, while the mayor would receive $3,500 per month. The new compensation would go into effect in January 2014.
During the public hearing, Douglasville resident Sam Bean reminded the elected officials, “These are public service jobs, not career positions.
“You are here to serve the public and my expectations of you were that of solid citizens to come down here and do some good.”.
Jim Smith of Douglasville told the council, “Each of you when you signed onto city council, you knew what your salary would be.”
“I’m tired of representatives, senators, the president of the United States and now our city council telling citizens here in Douglasville, ‘This is what we’ve proposed and you may as well like it because that is what we’re going to do,’” Smith said.
The city council went back to square one on the issue during committee meetings held before Monday night’s voting meeting.
Councilman Doug Leguire said, “We have taken a lot of criticism over this thing.”
“I am not sure we have not done some damage to the council, and I hate to see our image blighted over something we inherited.”
Leguire was referring to a grand jury investigation in 2012 which called for the council to end the former per-meeting pay system which the jury determined was prime for abuse.
Councilwoman LaShun Burr-Danley said, “We would be remiss in not listening to our constituents.
“Making a decision is something we have to do very carefully. We have to fix the problem and fixing the problem doesn’t mean increasing compensation.”
Mayor Harvey Persons, who displayed a thick notebook full of research on mayoral and council salaries, said while there is a lot of data available, there is no model to follow in determining appropriate compensation.
“If we table it, we are not addressing the issue,” said Persons, “and what new information can we bring forward?
“Indecision is no decision. We need to take action and move forward.”
Upon unanimous vote to table the salary resolution for further discussion, the council will bring it back for consideration during its legislative work session April 11.
The body plans to put a resolution to a vote on April 15.