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Salaries for mayor and city council members

  • Friday, December 20, 2013

Salaries for mayor and city council members

Like many citizens I was surprised by the recommendation from Mayor Scoville to more than triple the salary of the mayor and city council. The increase of the mayor’s salary from $7,500 to $24,000 (+320%) and city council from $4,800 to $18,000 (375%) is excessive by any measure.

While I believe these individuals deserve appropriate compensation and am grateful for their diligent work, the elected positions of mayor and city council are not jobs, they are commitments to public service. Dramatically increased salaries could provide the wrong kind of motivation for potential office holders.

As one whose consulting business includes compensation evaluation, the two measures most often applied to setting salaries are industry averages and performance assessments. With a diversity of individuals in elected office, applying performance assessments for positions like mayor and city council is fraught with problems. Consequently, the most logical measure is industry averages.

I identified six cities similar in size and complexity to Georgetown: Abbeville, Bennettsville, Lancaster, Laurens, Moncks Corner and Newberry. When combined with Georgetown, the average size is 8,465 vs. Georgetown at 8,950. The average number of city employees is 136 vs. Georgetown at 164 and the average payroll is $5.4 million vs. Georgetown at $6.2 million. These last two measures are affected by some of the cities having their own utilities (such as Georgetown) which adds employees and payroll. Nevertheless, this is a legitimate peer group.

The average salary for mayor is $8,720 and the average city council salary is $5,585.

I believe a reasonable case could be made to increase the mayor’s salary to $8,720 (an increase of 16%) and city council to $5,585 (an increase of 16%). This would provide a basis for regular comparisons every four years to keep compensation for our public servants on a par with comparable cities in South Carolina and continue to attract talented individuals with a commitment to serve our community.

Peter Mitchell

Georgetown

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