Town board's salary set for vote Thursday

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CHAPEL HILL - The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Monday, and plans to vote Thursday, to start paying members $150 per month, a salary similar to other town boards.

If aldermen don't vote on Thursday to adopt the ordinance that creates their salary and pay rate, then it will be too late for the new law to take effect in time for the recently elected officials who start their terms in September.

That's because the Town Charter prohibits alteration of an elected official's salary while in office, according to Town Administrator Mike Hatten. His interpretation of the Charter drew some observations from Town Attorney Todd Moore of Franklin.

Tribune photo by Clint Confehr Chapel Hill's Board of Mayor and Aldermen have been meeting in the recently expanded Town Hall on Unionville Pike. Town leaders are, from left, Alderwoman Miriam Joyce, Town Administrator Mike Hatten, Mayor Carl Cooper, Aldermen Henry Frame, Horace Hill, Buck Bryant and Billy Batte.

"Because we have staggered terms," Moore continued, "we may have to wait."

Mayor Carl Cooper and Aldermen Houston E. "Buck" Bryant and Pam Elliott were re-elected without opposition on Thursday when Thomas H. Lawrence III was elected to succeed Alderman Billy Batte who did not seek re-election after serving 17 years.

Aldermen Henry Frame, Horace Hill and Miriam Joyce were elected in August two years ago.

"I don't think it's right for me to get paid and Horace not," Bryant said. "Could we give him a bonus?"

Joyce said, "It's no big thing to me" to not get paid, and Moore interjected, "We could look for special authority for a bonus..."

Marshall County commissioners are normally paid one-eighteenth of the county mayor's salary, expressed as $300 a month, according to Hatten's report to the town board Monday. Commissioners had, however, cut their salaries to share in budget cuts required by lower revenues during the recession.

Lewisburg's mayor and councilmen are paid $150 a month plus $50 for each additional meeting, Hatten said. Cornersville's mayor is paid $150 per month. Aldermen there are paid $100 monthly.

Lewisburg and other city councils adopt ordinances with three votes, each during different meetings. Chapel Hill adopts ordinances on two votes, also known as "readings," a term that refers to a time gone by when a proposed new law would be read aloud in its entirety.

Chapel Hill's attorney also noted that the ordinance wouldn't take effect until two weeks pass after the second successful vote. And, newly elected officials in Chapel Hill don't start their terms until the first regularly scheduled board meeting after the county's Election Commission certifies results.

Hatten calculated that for the ordinance to take effect for the new alderman - Lawrence, Cooper, Bryant and Elliott, the board had to meet Thursday night and adopt the ordinance before election commissioners certify results.