Tahlequah city councilors mulled increases to the pay of three elected officials during Monday night’s special meeting.
Councilors initially discussed the raises earlier this month after asking Mayor Jason Nichols to prepare an ordinance to increase the three officials’ salaries by 3 percent each year for four years. The raises would not begin to take effect until May 2013.
“There is some information in your packet that is labeled the ‘mayor’s proposal.’ It is not the mayor’s proposal; it is the council’s requested data,” said Nichols. “The mayor has no proposal, and simply wants no part of this particular ordinance. It’s entirely up to you all to figure out what you want to do with it, but I did provide the data you asked for.”
Under the initial proposal, the city clerk, street commissioner and chief of police would receive 3 percent increases each year starting in May 2013. By the fourth year of the increases, the city clerk would be making $40,518, while the chief of police and street commissioner would each make $54,587 per year. The city treasurer would make $12,000 per year.
The second proposal, submitted by City Clerk Deb Corn, includes a 5 percent increase for elected officials for the first year and 3 percent increases each year for the following three years. Under her plan, the city clerk would be making $41,305 by the fourth year, while the street commissioner and chief of police would be making $55,647 per year. The city treasurer would make $12,000 per year.
The city clerk is now paid $36,000 per year, while the street commissioner and police chief draw $48,500, all excluding benefits. The treasurer gets $12,000 per year.
City Treasurer Lanny Williams told the council he was “pleased” with his compensation, and wasn’t requesting a yearly raise.
“The treasurer is pleased, and the chief of police [Clay Mahaney] has indicated the same, so I’ll leave it to the Corns to carry the ball here,” Nichols said, referring to Deb Corn and her husband, Street Commissioner Mike Corn.
“What’s the chief’s reason for not asking?” Mike asked.
Mahaney wasn’t at Monday night’s meeting, but Nichols said Mahaney is “apparently satisfied” with his compensation.
“He didn’t tell you one way or the other?” Corn asked.
“He said, ‘I’m happy where I’m at,’ I believe were his exact words, so I chose to rephrase it as ‘satisfied,’” said Nichols.
Councilor Diane Weston said she believes the council should pass an ordinance increasing the police chief’s salary each year, even if Mahaney is satisfied.
“He may not be chief forever, and this is going to affect somebody else,” said Weston.
Nichols said the initial proposal with a yearly 3 percent increase is intended to “match up” elected officials’ salaries to the 3 percent increases city employees can get each year with a positive evaluation. The alternate proposal is similar, he said, but also tries to compensate for a “perceived lack of increase that occurred over the last four years.”
Councilor Linda Spyres said she’d like to see the city clerk’s salary increased to the amount proposed under Deb Corn’s plan, and that she’d approve of the street commissioner and chief of police’s salaries being increased under the 3-percent-per-year plan.
Councilior Jack Spears said he supports adopting Deb Corn’s plan across the board, rather than taking bits of both proposals. But he also requested the board not act on the issue so Councilman Maurice Turney – who was absent – can express his opinion.
Councilors asked that the proposal from Deb Corn be brought back before the board at the next council meeting.
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