Chapel Hill aldermen start their own pay

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

With a 4-1 vote Thursday, Chapel Hill's unpaid Board of Mayor and Aldermen established a salary schedule for its members elected Aug. 5 when all town candidates won without challengers.

The mayor and the just-elected aldermen will be paid $150 per month starting in September. Because of staggered terms, Chapel Hill's other aldermen must wait until after the 2012 election because the Town Charter prohibits elected officials from increasing their pay while they're in office.

"They're going to go through another two years before they're going to get paid," Mayor Carl Cooper explained.

Thursday's town board meeting was a special-called session held three days after the regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Aug. 9. Chapel Hill ordinances are adopted on two successful votes of the board at different meetings and the ordinance creating the salary schedule takes effect 15 days thereafter.

Aldermen Horace Hill, Henry Frame and Marion Joyce could be paid starting September 2012 if voters return them to the board during the election nearly two years from now.

Alderman-elect Thomas H. Lawrence III will be paid, but hasn't taken office, so he did not vote, nor was he present for the short meeting Thursday afternoon. Lawrence did witness the Aug. 9 session when the ordinance was approved on the first of the required two votes. Other towns adopt laws with two votes. Still others, such as Lewisburg, require three votes.

Cooper and Aldermen "Buck" Bryant, Hill, Frame and Joyce voted to establish the $1,800 annual salary and Alderman Pam Elliott voted no.

"I don't think I do enough to deserve $150 a month," Elliott said when asked why she voted no. Elliott indicated she believes the mayor has been far more active as he's represented the town on intergovernmental panels and serves as a town leader.

"You know," Cooper commented after the vote, "you've just added to your income tax."

Assuming a 10 percent income tax bracket, the town officials would be paying $180 more to the Internal Revenue Service and netting $1,620. Meanwhile, it's been publicly known for years that Marshall County Commissioner Dean Delk, principal of Chapel Hill Elementary School, donates his county salary to charity.

Also during the town board's brief meeting Thursday, Cooper read the ordinance that becomes law on Aug. 27. It includes a phrase saying the board must be paid, and that the public welfare demands it.