MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — An ordinance set to appear on Mobile’s Sept. 29 City Council meeting wants to raise the salaries for the Mayor and councilmembers.
The City of Mobile’s website shows the mayor currently makes $89,000 each year. If approved, the mayor would make $125,000 per year, which is an increase of $36,000.
The website also shows councilmembers receive $19,800 each year (which is $1,650 per month), plus $175 for each regular and special meeting, as well as a flat rate of $325 for expenses every month. If approved, the flat rate would not change, but councilmembers would receive $24,600 each year (which is $2,050 each month). This would be an annual increase of $4,800. Councilmembers would additionally receive $300 for each regular or special meeting they attend, which is an increase of $125 from the previous amount.
The ordinance calls for an additional stipend of $500 each month for the City Council President.
City Councilman Joel Daves told WKRG News 5, “The last pay raise for the City Council and the Mayor took effect in 1997.” He explained the total increase for councilmembers would be approximately 33 percent. He said the raise is, “Very close to the average of the salaries of the mayors of the five top cities in the state.”
Councilman Daves explained why the ordinance is now being proposed. He said, “Our law provides that any pay raise for the council and the mayor has to come and be enacted before a municipal election and come into effect after a municipal election.”
He said currently many cities are furloughing employees or forgoing raises, but Mobile recently passed a 2.5-percent raise for its employees and the city is doing well. “Since 1997, the city’s budget has doubled, the pay of the average employee of the city has gone up 50 percent, and I would just say the city is in the best financial shape it’s been in, in its entire 300-year history,” Daves said.
WKRG News 5 asked Councilman Daves if those figures take into account the expected loss the city faced at the beginning of the year from the novel coronavirus. Daves said, “The first couple of months after the virus kind of had an effect, the revenues were down, but the revenues have been up the last three months.”
He said with the city’s financials in an upward trend, he feels now is the time for raises. “When this mayor and this council took office almost seven years ago, there was virtually no reserve, and that reserve has been built up to an excess of 60-million-dollars,” Daves said.
Not all the Mobile city councilmembers are on board with the decision.
WKRG News 5 spoke to Councilman John Williams, who opposes the idea. He said, “What poor timing. What really a disaster this could be for those who think they have a life in politics.”
“It is really a bad time to propose a raise for politicians. What we really want is people who have been successful, who are financially secure, who have proven themselves, and can contribute to the government through a personal sacrifice,” Williams said.
Councilman Williams expressed concern for people wanting to get into local government for the wrong reasons. He said, “We certainly don’t need to make a salary that is acceptable for those who are looking for a life in politics.”
The District 4 Councilman elaborated on what he said, explaining that he gave his time back to the city after serving a 20-year-long career in the Army. “Politics, especially locally in Mobile, should be one that those who have been successful, who have proven themselves, and have something real to contribute, are the ones that determine that it’s time for a sacrifice, time to give their time to make Mobile a better place.”
Councilman Williams said he may not be the only councilmember against the raises. He said, “I would hope that my colleagues, and I feel confident that I am joined by Ms. Rich, will reconsider any support of this ordinance, and realize that we have a community that has just experienced almost record unemployment in this pandemic, and that they will wait until it’s a more appropriate time and there are some more appropriate proposal for compensation.”
The ordinance is expected to appear on Tuesday, Sept. 29’s agenda, but would not be able to be voted on until the following Tuesday. The change would take effect the first Monday in November 2021.
Read proposed Ordinance below: