In its first official meeting under a new administration Monday, the Fairhope City Council appears ready to consider the termination of its operations director and name Mayor-elect Sherry Sullivan the superintendent of utilities.
The mayoral salary has long been a point of contention in the city of roughly 22,000 residents. Unlike her predecessor Tim Kant, when outgoing Mayor Karin Wilson was elected in 2016, she refused to accept the dual position as utilities superintendent and its accompanying $60,000 salary, opting to use the funds to hire a professional engineer instead.
At the time, the base pay for mayor was $32,400. But last year, the City Council voted to raise the base salaries for elected officials, effective this term, to $85,000 for the mayor and $12,000 for City Council members. However, they maintained the superintendent of utilities position and along with the city’s insurance plan, Sullivan will have a salary and benefits package worth nearly $160,000 if the ordinance is adopted Tuesday.
When asked about the additional salary during her mayoral campaign, Sullivan said she was not yet familiar enough with it to comment. But responding to questions sent over email this morning, Sullivan explained, “when elected, the mayor is allowed to serve as the utility superintendent. It is allowed by Alabama Code 11-43-80.”
She did not respond specifically to her qualifications for the positions, but said her duties will include to “work with the utility superintendents to address capital projects, routine required maintenance, safety, compliance, staffing and budgeting. I will also represent all of the utilities with state and national legislative and advocacy organizations.”
As part of the reorganization, the City Council also appears poised to eliminate the position of Operations Director Mike Allison, who was hired as electric superintendent under the Wilson administration in 2018. Allison became operations director this year after the resignation of Richard Peterson. Allison joined the city from Colorado Springs Utilities, where he worked since 1988, leaving as principal engineer supervisor.
“With strong superintendents in place for each utility, this position will not be necessary,” Sullivan wrote.
After a nearly 17-year career with the city, Sullivan was serving as community affairs director when she was fired by Wilson in 2017. Also on the agenda Tuesday are ordinances to repeal and replace how funds from the city’s sales and use tax are expended and the appointments of city clerk, treasurer, police chief and city attorney.
Sullivan noted those positions are council appointments, but she does not expect those currently serving in the roles to be replaced. The modification of the tax revenues are necessary “to replenish the debt reduction account,” Sullivan wrote. “The funds that will be redirected are currently being used for capital projects, but because of expenses associated with Hurricane Sally, the fund needs to be replenished.”
Separately, the council will consider a fee schedule to retain law firm Hand Arendall Sale, presumably as litigation attorneys.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2 in City Council chambers and according to the agenda, the oaths of office will be presided over by Baldwin County Circuit Court Judge Jody Bishop.
Editor’s note: This article initially stated the meeting would be Tuesday, Nov. 3. The date has been corrected.
Organizational Meeting - 11-02-20 (1)
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