Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

TOP STORY >>Salaries in Cabot set to go up in '08

By RAY BENTON
Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams asked in his proposed 2008 budget for $10,000 to be divided as he wants as pay raises among his department heads. The council committee that met Monday to discuss his proposal decided to increase that amount by $68,000, of which $16,200 would go to raise the mayor’s salary.

The committee, which is presided over by chairman Eddie Cook and includes Becky Lemaster, Ken Williams and Tom Armstrong, proposed the biggest pay increase for the mayor. The proposal, which was set in motion by Alderman Williams, would increase the mayor’s pay in 2008 from $68,800 to $85,000 annually. The police chief, fire chief and public works director would all receive increases of $10,000 each, while the operations director would receive an increase of $8,000.

Those positions are held by Jackie Davis, who is police chief; Phil Robinson, fire chief; Jerrel Maxwell, public works director, and Karen Davis, director of operations.

If the mayor accepts the committee’s budget, those department head salaries will be $77,600 for the police chief, $73,700 for the fire chief, $57,200 for the public works director and $48,500 for the operations director.

Mayor Williams had proposed a standard 5 percent increase across the board for the positions considered by the committee.
The Budget and Personnel Committee members proposed more substantial increases in an attempt to bring Cabot’s pay scale in line with other cities similar in size.

“What we’ve done,” Cook said, “is taken a look at salaries of cities of like size, and with that comparison, tried to align our salaries with that. Cabot is lagging way behind most everyone the same size, and even many cities smaller than us.”

During the meeting, Williams called Cabot’s salaries for the office of mayor and other department heads “embarrassing,” in comparison to towns of similar size and population.

Cook said the committee was aware of Cabot’s lower pay scale for mayor and department heads, but was still a bit surprised that the final tally ended up as high as it did.

He also doesn’t expect Williams to accept the proposal.

“He’s probably going to fight us,” Cook said. “He knows we’re off in Cabot, but it’s going to be hard for him to stomach that kind of increase for himself.”

The committee proposes that the money to pay for the increases come from the 2009 carryover, which is $168,991. That does not affect the budgeted savings of $750,000 by the end of 2008.

“We would prefer the increases come from the carryover rather than department budgets be cut elsewhere,” Cook said.
The increase for department heads comes to $54,200, but an extra $16,800 was included for the seven members of the planning commission.

They’re paid $100 per month, which is $1,200 annually for each member. That will increase, under the committee’s proposal, to $300 per month and $3,600 annually for the seven members.

That’s a total of $71,000 in increases, but a final proposal to freeze the city attorney’s pay at its 2007 level knocks approximately $3,000 off the mayor’s proposed raise for that office.

If the mayor rejects the proposal, it will go back to the budget and personnel committee.

The measure will be brought before the full council at the next city council meeting on Dec. 17.