New mayor, new council = pay raise?

With four of its five members freshly elected, the Peachtree City Council this Thursday will talk about giving themselves a pay raise — double their current pay.

On the agenda is the possibility of restoring pay increases for the mayor and council members that would double the mayor’s salary from $9,000 to $18,000 a year and council members pay from $6,000 to $12,000 a year.

A full year of the pay increase for council members will cost the city $33,000 and would come from the city’s fund balance, which council has long planned to spend down this year as it has risen to nearly twice that of the recommended amount: equivalent to 20 percent of the annual budget.

The pay increases were approved in 2007 but put on hold in the budget before they could be awarded in 2010, and they have gone unfunded in each subsequent budget year.

Now that the city has turned the corner financially with a surplus at the end of the 2013 fiscal year and provided cost of living raises for employees in the current budget year, staff is asking if council wants to consider restoring their raises.

At a workshop meeting Jan. 9, new Councilman Mike King said he supports the salary increases and would advocate for their passage.

“I say to the public if I’m not worth that amount of money then fire me,” King said. “I honestly believe this council will prove our worth 10 fold in the next two years before I can consider running again.”

Prior to the salaries being raised in 2010, on paper anyway, they had remained the same for the previous 22 years, according to a memo to council from City Manager Jim Pennington.

Councilman Eric Imker is the lone holdover council member. Kim Learnard was elected to a new four-year term in November. At the same time, Vanessa Fleisch, previously a council member, was elected to a four-year term as mayor. Terry Ernst won a four-year slot in November, his first run at elective office. And Mike King stepped into the remaining two years of the four-year slot vacated by George Dienhart, who resigned in an unsuccessful run for mayor.