The council voted to remove a proposed amount — tabled on March 18 due to public opposition — which would have paid council members $1,250 per month and the mayor $3,500 per month.
Council members then voted 4-3 to defeat a proposal for monthly compensation of $1,075 per month salary for council members and $3,300 per month for the mayor.
Mayor Pro Tem Larry Yockey followed with an amended motion calling for a vote on a $1,075 per month salary for council members, and an anticipated $3,000 monthly salary for the mayor. Yockey’s motion lost 4-3.
Voting to approve the first vote were council members Mark Adams, Sam Davis and Dennis McLain. Voting against were council members Doug Lequire, Carl Pope, LaShun Burr-Danley and Yockey.
Voting for the second measure were Lequire, Yockey and Pope, while Adams, McLain, Burr-Danley and Davis voted against.
Adams has adamantly spoken out against any amount that would lower Mayor Harvey Persons’ current salary of $36,621, while Yockey has fought any proposed amount over $3,000 per month for the mayor.
“I am not in favor of giving the council a raise and strongly disagree with cutting the mayor’s salary,” Adams said.
The additional $75 per month for council members, which had been proposed by Yockey, was found to be an unpopular move among several council members.
First Adams, chairman of the finance committee, followed by McLain and Burr-Danley, spoke out about the additional amount, stating they “would not accept the $75 and would give it back.”
The vote marked weeks of division among members of the council, while Persons has repeatedly contended it unfair for the council to vote themselves a pay increase and seem determined to decrease the compensation of the mayor, whose position is part-time.
This falls on the heels of a grand jury’s published report of April 5 which monitored a 2012 grand jury recommendation that “the mayor and city council adopt a fair and equitable compensation plan that would be [acceptable] to the citizens of the city and comparable to the compensation of elected officials of cities similar in size in the state of Georgia.”
The report noted that this had not been resolved as of the date of the report. A grand jury in October 2012 recommended the current grand jury continue to monitor the actions of the mayor and council “to bring a reasonable solution to the issue without further bickering and embarrassment to the offices they hold.”
Any change in pay would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014, but was hoped to be resolved in time for the upcoming fiscal year budget, which must be approved by July 1.