With only five Mobile City Councilors at the Oct. 9 meeting, many of the more controversial topics were held over until the Oct. 15 meeting, so the full council would be present to vote on them.
Councilors William Carroll and Gina Gregory were absent making the Oct. 9 meeting’s potentially heated agenda rather bland.
Councilman Fred Richardson’s request to change the way the mayor and council receive raises, two budget amendments and four appointments to one board were all shelved since the three issues would need at least five votes.
Richardson held over his own request on Oct. 9 because he said he didn’t have the support needed to request the state legislative delegation to change the way raises are given to the council and mayor.
Under the current system, the opportunity for council and mayoral raises must be done six months before an election. That means the opportunity for a raise only comes around every four years.
Richardson is requesting the rule to be changed so the city government’s raises are given like the Mobile County Commission.
“All I’m asking is for the same law for the city as the county commission has,” he said. “In 2000, the omnibus pay raise was approved for the county. An omnibus pay raise would give the council and mayor a raise when the employees get a raise.”
The councilman said he isn’t expecting money anytime soon, but would still like to see the city council and mayor’s pay raise structure to be like the commission.
“This isn’t going to be discussed by the state for a year or two. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about making things fair,” Richardson said. “I’ve been here for 17 years without a raise. The councilors who were just elected will come in making the same money I did in 1997.
“I’m also not asking to raise the base for the City Council’s salary. I’m only asking for the state to consider linking the councilors and mayor’s raises with the employees.”
Even if the request were approved by the state tomorrow, Richardson said, the councilors wouldn’t see a raise for some time.
“Just because the council would receive a raise when the employees did, doesn’t mean it will happen right away,” he said. “The employees didn’t have a raise for years until this budget.”
Richardson said he is trying to make it clear that the request to the state is not about money, but about changing the structure.
Two requests definitely about money are the proposed amendments to the 2013-2014 budget to give the Centre for the Living Arts (CLA) $125,000 more and appropriate $25,000 to People United to Advance the Dream. The issues were held over on Oct. 9, but will come up again on Oct. 15. The funding would come from the city’s excess in reserves if approved.
People United to Advance the Dream hosts the city’s Martin Luther King Day parade. The money appropriated would go to that event and to the outreach work the organization does within the school system.
The CLA is asking for $125,000 more than the $100,000 it was allotted during the 2013-2014 budget.
City officials did not know the use for the extra money and calls to CLA were not immediately returned.
The last issue to be held over was the four appointments to the Industrial Development Board, which were sponsored by outgoing Mayor Sam Jones just weeks before Mayor-elect Sandy Stimpson takes over.
Jones is asking the council to approve Carol Franklin, Thomas Tyrrell, LeBarron McClendon and Thomas Oldweiler to serve on the board.
The board has the legislative authority to acquire, own, lease and dispose of properties in areas in which corporations may develop industry, according to its legal description. Troy Wayman, vice president of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, said the city’s IDB provides members to a joint city/county industrial park board that handles such property issues.
The board is also legally empowered to offer tax incentives to businesses and issue bonds. Its members are not paid.
The terms would be six years if approved by the council.