City Council to vote Monday on possible salary hikes

The Salisbury City Council this week again discussed increasing the mayor’s salary, reaching a consensus to double it to $50,000, effective in 2019.

They will vote on the matter at the next meeting on Nov.  27.

Council members, with Mayor Jake Day, discussed the issue for the third time at Monday night’s work session. At the Nov. 6 work session, the Council tabled the matter, after the four members present failed to agree on an amount.

Councilman Jim Ireton refused to go along with more than a $12,000 increase, from the present annual salary of $25,000 to $37,000, prompting Councilman Muir Boda to suggest a compromise of $50,000. Councilwoman April Jackson agreed.

Council President Jack Heath said the topic should be postponed until Councilman Hardy Rudasill, who was absent on Nov. 6, returned. Day was not at that meeting, but has said he opposes a high salary for mayor.

“Fifty, to me, is totally inadequate. I have to vote no and if I vote no that kills it,” said Heath, who has repeatedly called for the salary being commensurate with the mayor’s responsibility.

This week, Ireton proposed incremental increases and Boda said he would agree if those increases ended with a $50,000 annual salary by the end of 2023.

But offering future mayors a smaller salary would “immediately eliminate a whole section of the city that could qualify as a good mayor,” Boda said.

“Do we rewrite the charter to meet what our citizens expect? If they expect us to define the job as a full-time job, then we need to be sure we pay the correct the salary,” he said.

Day, who attended the meeting this week, said it is already defined as a full-time job, so no charter change would be necessary.

Ireton said he is concerned about putting too much money in politics, giving lobbying groups as an example and again suggested incremental increases. But Rudasill said if $50,000 per year is being considered, then it should be set at that amount immediately.

“Thank you,” Councilwoman April Jackson said.

“You have to pay for value. That’s the way the world works. It’s a capitalistic nation,” Rudasill said.

But Ireton said salary should be based on eligibility.

Boda said he was trying to compromise with Ireton to eventually reach $50,000, but he would also agree with Rudasill’s suggestion.

“To get it over with,” Jackson said.

Heath said $50,000 per year is a significant increase from $25,000, but he still thinks it should be higher.

The mayor has the right to veto the council’s decision, but Heath said the veto can be overridden. Regardless, it isn’t relative, he said.

“I think once we decide on whatever the number is, I think the mayor is going to get many calls and he’s going to have to decide whether, at the time, whether it’s the right thing to do, if we voted it in. If I were the mayor, which I’m not, I wouldn’t tell you if I was going to veto it or not, because that is inconsequential to the task we are given,” Heath said.

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