Proposal would give big raises to Atlanta mayor, council members - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Proposal would give big raises to Atlanta mayor, council members

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ATLANTA -

Police officers, firefighters and taxpayers were all on hand Wednesday afternoon at City Hall to protest a pay hike plan that would see council members' annual salaries jump by 50 percent.

The city workers are outraged because they've gone years without a significant pay increase.

Members of a blue ribbon commission presented results of a finding that looked into fair compensation for Atlanta's elected officials.

"In my opinion – and this is my personal opinion – I think the city council is grossly underpaid," said Jamel Dacosta of the ATL Compensation Commission.

The commission is calling for 50 percent pay raises for council members, raising their pay to $60,300. The mayor's salary would go up about 25 percent, from $147,500 to $184,300.

"I can tell you right now, I have 2,000 police officers – they're a full-time job…They're putting their life on the line for the citizens, for you and the people that elected you," said Ken Allen of the Atlanta Police Union.

FOX 5's Morse Diggs was told that immediately after FOX 5 news aired the story on Tuesday night, council members' home phones started ringing off the hook. The calls were from taxpayers wanting to know what is going on, and the head of a taxpayer group with access to 10,000 members says not so fast.

"I wish I could get that kind of raise. We were just talking about the pot holes being some of the worst responses in the country as far as Atlanta goes, and we are talking about pay raises. Can we fix the roads before we start handing out pay raises?" asked Barbara Payne of the Fulton County Tax Payers Association.

Being an Atlanta city council member is supposed to be a part time job. Because of that, the salary isn't all that high -- a little more than $39,000. Council members could decide to give themselves, and the mayor, huge pay raises.

Union leader Gina Pagnotta-Murphy said it was "the noble thing to do to not pay yourself before you pay the people that support you and put you in those seats."

There are several legal steps the council must go through before they take a vote on the issue. If they approve the raises, they would go into effect for the next city council and mayor. If council members were re-elected, they would receive the raise.
    
Some residents were surprised to hear about the proposal.

"As elected officials doing part-time, it seems a little bit off to me. Obviously we can't control the system, but something seems a little bit awry," said Atlanta resident Rudy Vaughn.

The commission might think the raises are fair, but they could be a tough political sell.

"Given the economic environment, anything with respect to pay increases for elected officials needs a fair amount of scrutinizing and evaluation," said Atlanta resident Charles Johnson

Others say if the raises will help attract talented representatives, they'd be willing to pay more.

"Hopefully they're doing a good job, and going to bring some value to the city. We know the city has some issues in front of it, so maybe it'll turn out for the best," said Atlanta resident Todd Kice.


Do you think the raise should be approved? Comment below or on our FOX 5 Atlanta Facebook page!

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