Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TOP STORY >> Mayor is adamant about no pay raise

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council’s budget committee voted Monday night to give Mayor Bill Cypert a 3-percent pay raise despite his insistence that he doesn’t want it.

The proposed 2012 budget is for $10.4 million, compared to $10.2 million for 2011.

When council members met last week to discuss the mayor’s proposed budget, they didn’t voice any concern about his intention of keeping his salary the same. Their vote not to give themselves or the mayor raises but to give raises to the city attorney and clerk-treasurer was unanimous.

“I’m not going to accept it,” the mayor said after the meeting. “My position is unchanged. Given the economy, I don’t think any elected official should be considering or taking a raise.”

The $2,608 raise will stay in the general fund and he will accept only his current salary of $86,944, he said.

Alderman Ann Gilliam, the committee chairwoman, pointed out that the proposed 2012 salary for the police chief is $91,398, almost $4,500 more than the mayor is paid. And the fire chief’s salary is $82,411, only about $4,500 less.

She and other aldermen are concerned that a department head would be paid almost as much or more than the mayor.

They reasoned that if they didn’t raise the mayor’s salary now, raising it later would require a larger outlay just to make the salary comparable to that of other mayors, she said.

“He really didn’t want it, but to me it makes sense,” Gilliam said.

The last pay raise for the mayor’s office was in 2009, she said.

Cypert said he excluded himself from the pay raise because he knew he wouldn’t accept it.

“I was just trying to save grief on the front end,” he said.

Although the aldermen voiced concerns about giving raises to city employees when revenue is flat, Cypert said he stands by his decision to increase the salaries of dispatchers and some firefighters.

“We’ve got a lot of tenured people that we need to retain,” he said.

Despite their reservations, the committee voted 5-0 to pass the 2012 budget resolution to the full council without changes except for the addition of the 3 percent raise for the mayor.

That resolution and a resolution to change city insurance from United Healthcare to the Municipal League are on the agenda of Monday’s city council meeting.