The mayor of Cleveland could make $40,000 in 2016.
The Cleveland City Council voted 4-3 to approve a salary increase during a meeting Monday.
Councilmen David May, Charlie McKenzie and Bill Estes voted against the change.
A previous motion to make the salary $50,000 failed.
City regulations require the issue to come up for a vote again at the next meeting for final passage. State law says any increase in salary for the position of mayor or city councilman cannot take effect until the terms for all of the current members have expired, according to city attorney John Kimball.
Mayor Tom Rowland is a nonvoting member of the Council, and serves as chairman. Rowland recused himself during the vote and sat in the audience while voting was taking place.
“This is not a personality thing. It is not for me, it is for the position,” Rowland said.
Vice Mayor Avery Johnson served as acting chairman for the rest of the meeting.
“If you decide to retire at the end of this term, I think we need to offer an incentive for someone like you to serve,” Councilman Richard Banks said to Rowland. “You make $12,000 (a year). You can’t find someone who will work as hard as you do for that.”
Councilman Richard Banks said the Cleveland mayor should make more to be comparable to other mayors.
Banks said the mayor is, in effect, the marketing and public relations individual for the city. He suggested $50,000.
Johnson pointed out the form of government for the city was that of city manager and Council with a “weak mayor” style. He said the Municipality Technical Advisory Service may suggest a change in government to a “strong mayor” style if a major salary increase is desired.
“That’s where you really have a mayor who has all these credentials and everything,” Johnson said. “I definitely feel myself that the mayor deserves to be paid more, compensated more for all he does. We are just fortunate that we have a strong mayor in the position right now. You can’t always elect a person like that. The person you elect might not have near the qualifications that this mayor has.”
Rowland has said he plans for this to be his last term as mayor.
“I agree with Richard the mayor needs to be compensated. He has been here 23 years and he has made a minimal amount of money. If you come here during the day, he is here in his office or he is out representing us,” Councilman Dale Hughes said.
He said passing a salary increase would make Rowland’s last two years as mayor well compensated.
“If we give him a good salary, it does not mean we are changing the form of government,” Hughes said.
Johnson said the question of salary for the position should be addressed separately from the issue of compensating Rowland. Estes agreed.
“If we want to vote Tom money, let’s vote him money for 21 years (of service). But let’s think separately about the future,” Estes said.
He said he did not want candidates of the future to run for mayor simply for a salary or benefits.
The discussion began with creating an ordinance to establish car allowances for the mayor and the City Council.
After much discussion, the Council did not vote to give the 2016 governing body or the mayor payment to cover possible local mileage costs.
Kimball said car allowance is taxable and considered part of a salary. He stressed the issue was not about mileage reimbursement, which is not taxable.
Also during the meeting the Council approved:
- Accepting a donation of land near Raider Drive for the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway. The donation ensures there will be parking and space to expand the Raider Drive Park, regardless of what happens with the First Tennessee building.
- A residence on Berry Street that has been in court for code violations for debris in the yard will be cleaned by the city and a lien put on the property.
- Several appointments and reappointments to various boards.
- The sale of surplus property on GovDeals.com.