How much is the mayor of Fairhope worth?
Former Mayor Tim Kant was making $90,000 when he was defeated by Karin Wilson in the recent municipal elections. But $60,000 of that was for the position of utilities superintendent and $30,000 was for being mayor.
Wilson is getting $32,400, which was set by the previous City Council several months before the elections. Under state law, that salary cannot be changed during her current term.
Wilson has said the mayor shouldn’t hold two jobs and she doesn’t want to be utilities superintendent. But the mayor’s salary, she said, should be appropriate for a full-time job overseeing city government. “It’s a little embarrassing,” she told the council during a work session Monday.
According to a survey of municipal salaries, the mayor of Fairhope is on the high end or the low end, depending on whether the utilities salary counts.
The state’s League of Municipalities and the Center for Governmental Studies at Auburn University conduct surveys of municipal salaries about every four years. The last one was for the 2012 fiscal year. Not every municipality responds. The results are divided into five population groups and Fairhope falls into a group of nine cities with populations between 13,000 and 22,000.
The other eight cities are Foley, Fort Payne, Hartselle, Jasper, Muscle Shoals, Ozark, Troy and Trussville.
Of those nine cities, Fairhope’s mayor is paid both the highest salary and the lowest. Fairhope reported the mayor’s salary at $90,000, by far the highest of the group. The next highest salary was paid to the mayor of Muscle Shoals, at $66,830.
But when the utilities superintendent salary is subtracted, Fairhope comes in at $30,000. So did the mayor of Foley. Those two salaries were by far the lowest of the group. The next-lowest salary was paid to the mayor of Troy, at $48,000.
The average salary earned by the nine mayors was $53,419, but again that includes the $90,000 salary Kant was making.
Wilson’s salary will still be the lowest of the group because Foley raised its mayor’s salary to $35,000 for the next two years and then to $40,000 for the last two years of the term. Foley Mayor John Koniar said that would eventually put his city in line with what the mayors of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are paid.
“It’s officially part-time and some days full-time,” Koniar said. “Technically, it’s a part-time job, as the mayor does not have any health benefits, any fringe benefits. The mayor’s position in Foley is a part-time position.”
Wilson told Lagniappe the salary didn’t factor into her decision to run for mayor, and said Kant’s position as superintendent of utilities was as a “figurehead.” Apprised of the average salary from the survey, she said it sounded like a part-time salary.