Tuesday, April 9, 2013
A divided council took the first step Monday toward increasing the mayor’s pay, though any changes won’t take effect until after the municipal election in November.
Council voted 4 to 2 to increase Mayor Bill Collins’s pay to $45,000 until Dec. 31, 2015, the end of his current term.
If council doesn’t deal with the question of the mayor’s pay, expected hours and responsibility before that deadline, the compensation would revert to $15,000 on Jan. 1, 2016.
The six council members discussed the issue in an executive session that lasted so long that Collins had to leave for a meeting in Charleston before hearing their decision.
Councilmen Aaron Brown and Bob Jackson voted against the change, though Jackson said his vote might change when the written ordinance comes before full council.
Brown objected to the part of Councilman Terry Jenkins’s motion that would give the council seated as of Jan. 1, 2014 the responsibility for defining the salary.
Brown said council can’t and shouldn’t bind future councils, but Jenkins said his motion wouldn’t bind the council to act.
Jackson said council should define the position of mayor and determine the salary accordingly. The salary should be according to position, not the person holding the position, he said.
Council began looking at the mayor’s salary because of the hours that Collins puts in. On paper the job is part-time, but Collins has been working a full-time schedule and most council members want to give him more money.
The town is also saving money by not having a town administrator.
However, no one on council wants to end up with a strong mayor system, Jackson said.
Charleston and North Charleston have strong mayor systems, in which the mayor works full time and runs the town.
Under the council system adopted by Summerville, the mayor is essentially an at-large council member, with no more authority than any other council member except that given him by council.
Council gave Collins additional powers because he had the time and desire to devote more energy to the job and former Town Administrator Dennis Pieper had resigned shortly before the 2011 election.
The next town election is this fall, when odd-numbered districts come up for a vote. This year will mark the first time the municipal elections are held in November.