Monroe mayor’s salary needs increase with limited term

The Mayor’s salary for the city of Monroe needs increasing and the term of the office should be limited to six years.

In 1978 the City of Monroe appointed a charter commission that took a year to devise the Monroe City Charter. I attended all of those meetings and watched as the consultant labored to help the commission devise a simple but meaningful charter for the city.

   One of the sticking points was the mayor’s salary. At the time there was a heated debate about why the mayor of the city needed to earn the $50,000 a year being discussed. Ray O. Wright and Gene Tarver were professionals on the commission; they questioned whether $50,000 a year was equitable for city’s chief executive. Others such as Theopolis Brown, thought $50,000 was unbelievably high; Brown was a laborer and couldn’t envision such a high salary. In 1978 the minimum wage was $2.65 an hour. The average laborer earned $106 a week before taxes. To them, $50,000 was a king’s salary compared to the $5,512 the average laborer earned.

   Over the years the mayor’s salary debate has continued. It was bumped to $75,000 and then under Mayor Jamie Mayo it was bumped to $90,000. To sell the idea, he volunteered to give back the salary increase for a while.

   Fast forward to the present. The mayor’s salary has not changed and is locked at $90,000. In today’s economy, $90,000 is unthinkably low. The Clerk of Court doesn’t have half the mayor’s responsibility but earns twice that salary. The same could be said of the City Marshal, Sheriff or even the superintendent of schools.

  The cost of living has outgrown the job. In fact there are six people who work for the city who earn more than the mayor. Contrast that with the President of the United States who earns $400,000, but of the government’s 2.7 million employees only three people earn more than the President, all three are medical doctors and the highest earns $3,000 more than the president.

   The mayor of the city of Monroe should be it’s highest paid official and in today’s economy shouldn’t be paid less than $150,000 a year. Why?

   The City of Monroe is a major business operation that, at best requires persons with a business skill set. The problem is such people already earn considerably more than the $96,000 a year the present mayor earns.

   Regardless of the personalities involved, the mayor’s salary needs to increase substantially to keep him from being a “hungry dog guarding the smokehouse.”

   With that said, then there should be some limits.

   —The mayor should earn $150,000 plus benefits or $10,000 above the highest paid city employee (subject to council approval for the next mayor)

   —The mayor should serve one six year term, not subject to re-election, no retirement, no drop program, etc.

    Being mayor of the city should not be a career. Mayors, governors or even Presidents that stay too long tend to build kingdoms, get cocky, and operate as if they own the city. The city is actually run by business professionals who manage its operation and business officials.

    In theory, the mayor leaves his own business for a few years and leads the city and then returns to private life.

    To entice qualified people to even consider the mayor’s post, the salary needs a substantial increase.

    Some of these ideas would require a change in the charter to limit the term of the mayor.

    In should also be changed to limit the council members terms to two years, with a maximum of six. It would keep the council responsive to the communities they represent.

    The charter should also limit the amount that can be paid to city employees who already draw public retirements. Jimmie Bryant, former fire chief, earns a full city retirement and then draws $90,080 as one of the mayor’s top aides. Retired principal Robert Johnson draws a public retirement check as an educator and dips again in the public trough for another $94,382 as Community Affairs director of the city.

 

    A public retiree who works for the city should not have a combined public income more than that of the mayor.
    The bottom line is that the mayor is the chief executive of the city. He should be the city’s best paid officer on loan from his private affairs for a short term.

    What we have now promotes the “hungry dog” idea and feeds the notion that being mayor is a lifetime marriage that continues until divorce or death ends the relationship.