Published 9:46 pm Friday, June 19, 2015
The members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are getting a pay raise July 1.
The board Friday approved a 5 percent pay raise for Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Willis Thompson, increasing Flaggs’ salary from $93,450 to $98,122.50, and the aldermen’s salaries from $74,550 to $78,277.50.
The raises were authorized under a city ordinance approved in 2002 that allows the board to receive a 5 percent pay raise at its discretion. The ordinance was to have expired in 2014, but the present board amended it through 2018.
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Initially, the raises were on the board’s executive session agenda, but were moved to open session after Flaggs expressed concern about discussing the raises in closed session, and the board received an objection from the audience.
“I personally think it should be brought out and voted on in public,” Flaggs said, adding, “I have every intention of voting on it, but I just think it should be done in open, rather than executive session, so the people listening or tuning in today would know that we got a pay raise.”
In another matter, the board restored a 35 cents per 1,000 cubic feet purchase gas adjustment credit on city gas rates.
Under the city’s ordinances, the purchase of gas adjustment allows the city to raise or lower its gas rates to customers to keep pace with the cost of providing natural gas. The adjustment is the difference between the city’s cost to supply the gas and the price it pays to buy the gas.
Until Feb. 1, city gas customers received a 35 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of gas credit on their bills. The board removed the credit in January after learning Gulf South Pipeline, which moves and stores the gas for the city, was asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to raise the cost of transporting and storing gas. The increase would have raised the city’s cost of supplying gas by $1.3 million per year.
Although the rate hike went into effect in May, City Attorney Nancy Thomas said Friday the city’s long-term contract with Gulf South exempts it from the increase until 2019 because the contract between the city and Gulf South locked in a fixed rate for its services until March 2019. The city will pay the new rate after the contract expires.