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City council votes to raise salary for mayor position
Council members nix own raises in final approval of charter amendments
City council
Dawsonville Mayor and City Council

The Dawsonville city council voted 3-1 Monday night to amend the city charter and increase the amount of base salary allocated to the mayor position.

The council voted with council member Mark French opposed to increase the compensation from $600 to $1,000 per month.

The raise cannot go into effect for current Mayor Mike Eason and will instead go into effect after this year’s election cycle, or in other words become effective on Jan. 1, 2020.

The approved version of the ordinance nixes any mention of increases to the base salary of city council members, which were included in the initial draft.

Language that would increase council member pay by $100 a month was removed and the current base salary of $500 remains.
Also removed was a proposed increase in compensation for each city council meeting other than the first regular city council meeting of the month from $100 to $150.

The mayor and council members are each paid a monthly salary plus $100 for the second meeting each month, as well as $100 for any other pre-approved meeting they attend as a representative of the city council. They are also offered health insurance benefits, the same as any city employee.

The final public hearing on the ordinance to amend the charter was held Monday night, and no one spoke in favor or against the ordinance until the council closed the floor for discussion amongst themselves.

French first made a motion to table the ordinance, but the motion later died for lack of a second.

French had been adamant about opposing any salary increases since the first reading of the proposed amendments and said Jan. 7 that he would not support the increases because he did not think that the council or mayor’s duties had increased to account for it.

He reiterated that statement Feb. 4, and asked how the increase for the mayor had been calculated. He said the mayor had been quoted as saying it was “a collaborative effort.”

“I collaborated with no one Mr. French. I wasn’t part of any discussion pertaining to salaries,” Eason said. “I did say ‘when was the last time they considered the amount of money paid for meetings for council members to attend’ and they said it was like in ‘06. And I said ‘well if you’re going to look at money you ought to look at that’ and that was the only input I had at all in any salary matter.

“I’m not looking for any more money. You want to make it $1 a year I’m fine with that because I’m not doing this for money.”

Council member Caleb Phillips said he had talked to everyone on the council and no elected official that he knew of had asked for the raises to be put in the amendment.

He also said he and French had discussed the raises over the phone two weeks prior, and that he told French that the increases for the council members’ salaries would not be included in the final draft.

“I told you it wasn’t going to pass,” Phillips said. “I told you it was going to be changed before the last meeting.”

Council member Jason Power spoke in favor of the increase to the mayor salary.

“Having worked with several mayors in my time with the city, I think that the compensation is grossly undercompensated for what we’ve got at $1,000,” he said.

The mayor was compensated $2,000 a month until December 2017, when the council voted to reduce the compensation by $1,400.

Phillips said that when he voted to decrease the mayor’s pay in December 2017, it was at a time when the city had hired its first manager and that the duties of each were still being figured out.

“It was kind of uncharted territory at the city of Dawsonville, so now that we’re into it a couple of years and you kind of see what the mayor does and what the city manager does, I think you can better evaluate now how much time is spent by the mayor, what duties he does have,” Phillips said. “I would vote to increase it…$600 is not near enough compensation and really neither is $1,000.”

French said that if the mayor is doing additional duties, he would like to see that reflected in the city charter.

Phillips made a motion to approve the charter amendments, including the compensation increase for the mayor position, and Power seconded the motion.