Prior to the Feb. 25 deadline for doing so, public officials in seven municipalities chose to increase the pay for their next mayor and council to more closely reflect the salaries for surrounding communities and better compete with the private sector for younger talent.
Some municipalities had not increased pay for their local officials in more than 20 years and cited the need to entice more people to serve because of the extensive time these roles require of them, including hours spent in work sessions, as well as talking with constituents.
The decisions to increase their pay preceded the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic to Alabama in mid-March and the devastating hit on the economy from a shutdown. The Times-Journal collected information about the planned pay hikes from city and town clerks during qualifying for the August 25 municipal elections across DeKalb County.
Mayor-elect Brian Baine will earn $11,290 more than current Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser does now and $59,690 more than he presently earns as council president. Baine, 50, said Tuesday that he will be a full-time mayor working from City Hall.
“That [pay increase] change was made two or three years ago for Fort Payne,” he said. “We looked at other cities and tried to make our council and mayor pay more in line with others. As far as me being the mayor, that will be my full-time job, and I will help [Bruce’s] Foodland [Plus] through the transition as needed.”
Incoming Fort Payne City Council members will earn $1,900 more per year than the incumbents presently do.
In addition to this pay, officials continue to work day jobs or earn additional compensation for representing the city on local utility boards. Baine said this pay varies by board, but presently, council members earn $600 per month and the president of the council earns $800.
Six other municipalities joined Fort Payne in increasing pay for the next group of public officials.
Rainsville Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt will get a $6,000 pay increase and the next council will earn $2,400 more per year.
Collinsville Mayor Johnny Traffanstedt will get a $6,000 per year raise while council members will get $1,200 more per year.
Crossville’s next mayor will earn $2,400 more per year while council members’ pay doubles to $3,600 per year.
Geraldine’s Chuck Ables gets a $2,400 per year pay raise, and pay is doubling for the town’s next council to $9,600 per year.
Mentone Mayor Rob Hammond’s pay will double to $12,000 per year but council members will earn the same.
The next mayor of Sylvania will earn $2,400 more than Gerald Craig does now, while the pay for the mayor pro tem is doubling to $3,600 per year and council pay doubling to $2,400 per year.
Henagar, Fyffe, Hammondville, Ider and Valley Head are keeping the pay rates the same for the next administrations.
Elections to choose who will serve are August 25 across DeKalb County.