Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Georgetown City Council members are currently paid a stipend of $4,800 annually for their service while the mayor receives $7,500. A proposed ordinance amendment that will be voted on when council meets Thursday calls for the stipends to increase to $18,000 annually for council and $24,000 for the mayor.
The idea for a pay increase was brought up by Mayor Jack Scoville in August but the amount of increase being proposed - a 375-percent hike for council and a 320-percent increase for the mayor - was not released until Monday. By law, any pay increase cannot take effect until after the next municipal election. The proposed ordinance calls for the change to take effect in January 2016.
Currently, Georgetown County Council members receive $12,746 annually while the county council chairman receives $15,532.
Scoville said the pay for council and mayor has been the same since 1984. The increase as proposed, would add nearly $96,000 each year to the city’s expenses.
When speaking about the proposal, Scoville said council has more demands on its time, such as workshops to review complex issues and concerns. And they meet more often than they did in years past.
Scoville was asked Monday why those pay increase amounts were chosen.
“It seemed like a reasonable amount based on the amount of time spent on city business,” Scoville said. “It’s a full time responsibility. We run a $30 million a year operation. This is a very justifiable number.”
Council member Rudolph Bradley said he wants to study the issue before deciding how he will vote.
“If the city can afford it and it is not passed on to the taxpayers,” Bradley said, adding the city has other revenue sources other than the general fund. “We have the enterprise fund. I need to study to see if it’s feasible.”
He said there should have been increases over the years but since there were none, the city is “now stuck at having to increase by a considerable sum.”
He said he feels a raise is in order but “how much is the question.”
Council member Jeanette Ard, who lost her bid for reelection and will leave her seat next month, said she does not support the proposal.
“That is ridiculous. These are not jobs. They are an opportunity to serve the community,” she said of the amount of the increase. “That is more than some people who work 40 hours a week earn.”
She said she can support an increase of five to ten percent.
Both Ard and Council member Paige Sawyer said they feel the vote needs to be postponed until January so newly elected members Carol Jayroe and Ed Kimbrough can help make the decision.
“Being a Conservative, I will probably vote against it. The position of serving is not warranted by a paycheck,” Sawyer said, adding he could support a cost of living increase each year.
Council member Peggy Wayne also said she is not against some sort of pay increase but, she said, the amounts being proposed “are a bit much.”
She said she would support a hike of “a couple of thousand dollars.”
Council members also have the option of being provided health insurance through the city.
Everyone on council — with the exception of Scoville — has the coverage.
In other business:
Council will consider awarding city employees a $250 bonus for their continued safe working habits. Because of the decrease in accidents, the city’s workers compensation premiums have dropped.
Council will vote on whether to award a ten-year contract to Santee Cooper for that company to continue providing the electricity sold by the city. Five companies presented proposals and Scoville said the Santee Cooper plan was the best option for the city.
Council will consider a proposal from Sawyer to name the area where the fountain is located at the corner of Front and Screven streets Overton Park. It would be named after Dolphin Dunnaha Overton III, who died in March.
He was a Korean War Ace.
“He may be the only S.C. Ace from that conflict,” Sawyer states in a memo to council.
His daughter-in-law recently bought the old Rosen Law Firm building next to the fountain which is now a book store.
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