The position of Cleveland mayor would see a dramatic salary increase in 2016 if the Cleveland City Council passes a proposed ordinance to hike the wage to $40,000.
The ordinance passed on first reading in an Aug. 11 vote. It is scheduled for a second reading during Monday’s voting session. Proposed ordinance changes must pass on two public readings during separate City Council sessions before they can be enacted.
Currently, the city mayor’s salary is $12,000.
If the proposed ordinance is passed Monday on final reading, the new salary would take effect with Rowland having two years remaining in his term. He was re-elected to a four-year stint earlier this month. It ends in 2018.
City Councilmen who support increasing the salary believe the mayor should be compensated for his years of service.
“I definitely feel myself that the mayor deserves to be paid more, compensated more for all he does,” Vice Mayor Avery Johnson said. “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.”
However, he cautioned that the governmental structure of the city is a “weak mayor” system with the city manager running the day-to-day operations of the municipality. He said a dramatic increase in the mayor’s salary may be seen as giving more power to the position.
“If we want to vote Tom [Rowland] money, let’s vote him money for 21 years [of service],” Councilman Bill Estes said during the Aug. 11 session. “But let’s think separate about the future.”
According to Cleveland Finance Director Shawn McKay, the state does not set minimum requirements for the mayor or city manager’s salaries.
“Our city manager serves at the discretion of the City Council and they set the salary based on comparable cities our size and relevant experience,” McKay said.
For the 2014-15 fiscal year the city manager’s salary is set at $150,201. The assistant city manager makes $85,909.
Councilmen have said the mayor’s salary needs to be increased to make it more comparable to other mayors.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis’ salary is set at $94,636 for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
County Finance Director Lynn Burns said $3,000 of this is specifically because the mayor is the “paying agent for the county.” This means that his department is responsible for paying all the bills and handling the bidding of projects for the county.
The Bradley County mayor makes the minimum amount allowed by the state of Tennessee.
The governmental structure for the county is different than that of the city.
“The county mayor is also the county manager,” Burns said.
The finance director pointed out in order to make a comparison based on job description between the county mayor and his city counterpart, the mayoral and city manager salaries would have to be combined. This would make the numbers $94,636 for the county compared to $162,201 for the city.
While the county mayor’s salary is listed separately in the county budget, the city manager and assistant city manager salaries are not listed separately in the city budget. These salaries are listed separately in the yearly audit.
Another key issue scheduled for action at Monday’s voting session of the City Council is the appointment of a new city judge to fill the unexpired term of the late Bill Moss. Cleveland attorneys Andrew Moran of Richard Banks and Associates, and Barrett Painter of Chancey, Kanavos, Love and Painter, have applied for the position.
The newly appointed city judge will be given his oath of office on Sept. 8, which is when newly elected or re-elected members of the City Council will be sworn in.
Cleveland attorney George McCoin has served as interim city judge since Moss’ death.
City Court hears cases of city ordinance and environmental code violations.