Mayor, council should vote yes for pay increase

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 22, 2006

At their last meeting, the Greenville City Council put forth two resolutions that, if approved at their Feb. 27 meeting, would raise the mayor's base salary from $12,000 per year to $48,000 per year and the council's annual compensation from $3,600 to $8,400. We think both increases are warranted and wise, but not without some considerations.

First, if approved, the raises would not take affect until the new mayor and council are elected in 2008. Those who would assume the current mayor and council are voting themselves a raise are incorrect, since the reality is none of them may be reelected in the next voting cycle. That's up to you, the voter, to decide based on whether you think they've done a good job or not.

Secondly, it's been 20 years since the compensation for the mayor and city council has been adjusted and according to Inflation, a web site that calculates the rate of inflation from one year to another, the inflation rate from Jan. 1986 to Jan. 2005 is 74 percent. While council member James Lewis is the only sitting council member to have been in place the past 20 years, you get the picture. As an employee, you wouldn't expect your compensation to remain static the past 20 years, nor should we expect the people we &#8220employ” to do so either.

It's also important to point out that Greenville is not the same city it was 20 years ago, and few would argue that Greenville is in a cycle of growth and prosperity that will continue for years, if not decades, to come. In our mayor and council we need people with the vision and skill that can ably shepherd our city through this growth cycle and it will be hard to find people with those qualifications in the future at the current compensation the mayor and council are receiving.

Thirdly, we think people need to realize the role of a mayor and council has changed the last 20 years need to understand the benefit of making sure these elected officials are compensated based on their level of responsibility and accountability. Currently the mayor and council are responsible for supervising 166 employees and operating with an annual budget of $11.8 million. Ultimately it is the council's responsibility, working through the mayor and his/her department heads, to safely and efficiently implement the city's services while, at the same time, being available to the people those services benefit. It's often a thankless, time consuming job that falls well outside what people would consider &#8220part-time.” While the benefits of being a city employee are good (healthcare and state retirement) there is no overtime compensation for the mayor or council and we know, from reporting on them, both positions, especially the mayor's position, is nowhere near &#8220part-time.”

Lastly, according to the Alabama League of Municipalities, the two cities with population nearest to that of Greenville (pop. 7,228), are Arab (pop.7,174) and Guntersville (pop. 7,395). The mayors of both cities earn $45,000 per year in base salary, absent any other compensation.

Also, to be accurate, we must point out that the Greenville mayor's position also receives an additional $12,000 per year to supervise the city's water works and sewer board and $5,400 per year to represent the city on the

Southeast Alabama Gas Board, a multi-county cooperative that supplies natural gas to 32 communities in southeast Alabama. Doing the math puts the Greenville mayor's current annual compensation at $29,400.

We encourage the council to pass the two resolutions changing the compensation structure for the mayor and council positions with one final point of analysis; the citizens of Greenville will expect more for paying more, on that point we think everyone will agree.