No raises for WM city officials

Council nixes proposed pay increase for Treasurer, Clerk

By John Rech news@theeveningtimes.com

It is not even springtime yet, but the smell of raises wafts through West Memphis City Hall. But a proposed increase for two elected positions, the city clerk and treasurer, raised a stink and were nixed at the first city council meeting in February. Discussion prior to passing a 3-percent across-the-board raise for all city employees last year included raises for certain elected officials. At that time, Councilman Marco McClendon broached the subject on the floor at city council. Councilors quickly dismissed the idea with an employees-come-first attitude. Allotted pay for treasurer and clerk stands at $500 per month or $6,000 per year. Treasurer Frank Martin voluntarily forgoes a paycheck, while city Clerk Phillip Para draws the prescribed pay. Martin said he doesn’t plan to run for re-election but thought the pay amount should be comparable for his successor to the $9,600 per year city councilors make. “I just think it ought to be the same thing for the next person to run for it in three years,” said Martin. “We need to get in line with the times,” said Councilwoman Ramona Taylor. With the employees now seeing the increase on the paychecks an ordinance to raise the pay of the clerk and the treasurer to align with the annual salary for city councilors was officially introduced and quickly squashed by Alderman James Pulliaum. As the details were kicked around in the pre-council meeting work session Pulliaum asked questions about the measure. Then once it came up on the floor he applied the breaks. “Can we increase the salary during a term,” asked Pulliaum. “You can increase it at any point,” replied City Attorney David Peeples. “An effective decrease can not be made in the middle of a term. To decrease a salary, it would have to be at the start of the next term.” On the floor, Budget Committee Chairman Tracy Catt moved to add the raise to the agenda. Pulliaum opposed the adding the ordinance to the agenda during the voice vote and effectively pigeon holed the raise. “It takes a unanimous vote to add it to the agenda,” said Mayor Bill Johnson. “It died.” Catt pledged to bring it up at the next meeting. “I’ll have it recorded in at the city clerk’s office and have it on the next meeting agenda,” said Catt.

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