Friday, November 22, 2013
Georgetown City Council, Thursday night, gave first reading approval to an ordinance that will increase their pay in two years.
The amount of the increase will be debated and voted on at an upcoming meeting.
Council members Paige Sawyer, Jeanette Ard and Clarence Smalls voted “no” to the ordinance change which would have increased the stipend received by council members from $4,800 each year to $18,000. The mayor’s pay would have increased from $7,500 to $24,000. Mayor Scoville, Brendon Barber, Peggy Wayne and Rudolph Bradley voted in favor of the ordinance.
Scoville said the pay for council and the mayor has been the same since 1984 and there is more demand on the time of the council members.
Council now meets twice monthly instead of once per month as in years past.
He said because members failed to increase the pay through the years, “we are now looking at a big increase.” He said the amount requested “is not unreasonable.”
Smalls said he feels a pay hike vote should have taken place before the recent election.
“That is entirely too much money. We all have jobs,” Smalls said.
“Our city is not growing. The government should not grow if the city is not growing,” he said. “If we have this money, we should divvy it up and give it back to the taxpayers.”
Ard said she does not see service on council as a job.
“We went many, many years without employees getting raises. Since the city wasn’t growing, maybe council did not deserve raises all those years,” Ard said.
Bradley said if a raise is approved “I wonder if the ones who vote against it will decline to accept it?” He said a raise “is the right thing to do.”
Barber said serving on council is a job.
“You are always under a camera. Whatever we say or do,” he said.
Wayne said she feels the amount recommended is too high but she does feel a raise is proper.
Georgetown resident Harriette Hunt spoke against the raise during the public comment period.
“The timing is wrong. We are in bad economic times and this money can be better spent elsewhere,” she said. “We need a referendum. Let the people vote on it.”
County Council members also meet twice each month. The stipend for members of County Council is $12,700 while the County Council chairman earns $15,500.
The following are the stipends for elected officials in some cities of comparable size in South Carolina: Council members in Union receive a stipend of $9,100; In Cheraw it’s $4,800; Darlington $3,500; Moncks Corner $4,284.
The mayor’s stipends are: $5,400 in Cheraw; $6,000 in Darlington; $9,894 in Moncks Corner.