The council said it faced a significant financial shortfall for the 2013 fiscal year and did not think it could give employees raises. However, that was before the council learned the amount the city receives from an Alabama Power franchise use tax was not a mistake.
City clerk Sandra Donahoo said the budget projected the franchise use tax to be more than $400,000, but the check from the power company was $536,269. Mayor B.J. Meeks said in a March 18 council meeting that before making any major expenditure commitments he wanted to ensure that a mistake had not been made.
Once it was determined that the amount received from Alabama Power was certain and available in the future, the council was able not only to grant raises for city employees, but was in a position to enter into a contract with the Kymulga Grist Mill and Covered Bridge Park caretaker for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, ending Sept. 30.
The employee raise is the first raise city employees have received since October 2011 when they receive a 3 percent raise.
Not included in the raise are the mayor and council members. According to state law, the mayor and council salaries must be set prior to the election of a new administration.
“They can’t set their own salaries,” Donahoo said. “They can set the salary of a new administration.”
Donahoo said establishing the administration’s salary must be done in the form of a city ordinance. The last time the mayor and council received a raise was in 2008, the first in 20 years, Donahoo said.
The mayor’s annual salary set in 2008 is $16,800 and council members make $7,200 annually. Both salaries are paid in monthly installments.
Meeks said the raise plus matching benefits will amount to approximately $60,000 for the year, but will actually cost the city $30,000 because there are only six months left in the fiscal year.
Councilman Jimmy Payne said he wished the council could have given employees a 4 or 5 percent raise.
Contact Mark Ledbetter at firstname.lastname@example.org.