The mayor and city council members of Auburn rejected a request to discuss raising council members’ salaries at the City Council meeting on Feb. 4. The request was brought to attention at the last meeting on Jan. 21.
Councilman Arthur Dowdell proposed the discussion, but was not present for the Feb. 4 meeting due to family illness. Council members Robin Kelley, Gene Dulaney and Dick Phelan spoke out against raising council member salaries, although Kelley proposed addressing the mayor’s salary.
“We haven’t raised it (the mayor’s salary) since 1990,” Kelley said. “I don’t know what the population was in 1990, but I have a feeling that whoever it be, the current mayor, the future mayor, is putting a lot of time and effort into that position. I think we should look at that salary.”
Auburn’s population in 1990 was 33,830, nearly half of what it is today, according to City Manager Charles Duggan.
Duggan informed the council that state law requires any salary adjustments be made six months before the next election day. Therefore, any adjustments made after the next meeting on Feb. 18 won’t take effect until 2018.
The city council tried, and failed, to pass a referendum in September to raise property taxes. The increased tax money would have gone to the Auburn city school system.
“Considering what we did with the referendum, it wasn’t passed,” Phelan said. “And the fact that there is some question perhaps, what we are spending some of our money on, I think we have to stick with what we got rather than raising (salary) money, at least for the council.
“Obviously, the mayor at $16,000 is not, you know, he’s not paying his expenses on the golf course with that,” Phelan said to the attendees’ laughter.
Auburn city council members make $7,200 annually, and the mayor makes $16,000 annually, according to a city salary report by Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services.
“The mayor in our form of government is designated at a part-time job like the councilmen jobs are,” Mayor Bill Ham said after the meeting. “I think you keep the salary reasonably low, and you end up not having people run because they are looking for a second job or whatever. It is a civic-responsibility type deal.”
As part of the council’s civic duty, they approved a resolution to provide a $1,215 travel advance for Dowdell to attend the National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference in Washington, D.C. At the conference, Dowdell will join other city council members and mayors from across the country to advocate on behalf of city governments, according to Assistant City Manager Kevin Cowper.
In other resolutions, the City Council:
- Approved the purchase of a 2014 Ford F-550 for $48,503 from Stivers Ford Lincoln in Montgomery. The truck will be used for road maintenance, replacing a 2003 GMC Sierra that was purchased for $27,316 in 2002.
- Stone Electric Co. was chosen to install two traffic signal poles at the intersection of Bent Creek Road and Hamilton Road for $38,476.
- Unanimous vote approving an alcoholic beverage license for Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint on South College Street.
- Approved an improvements project for the Opelika Road and East University Drive intersection.
Written for Reporting, JRNL 2310, taught by Dr. Fuhlhage at Auburn University