Council keeps current salaries; Mayor Keown casts tie-breaking vote
In a special session on Tuesday evening the Morgantown City Council once again debated the salaries of Morgantown elected officials. After discussion on the topic, a motion to keep the current salaries passed after Mayor Linda Keown broke a 3-3 tie .
Stemming from a proposal last week by Councilman Allen Meredith, the topic of reduced city council and mayoral salaries was the only item on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting. Meredith proposed last week that all city council and mayoral salaries be lowered by one-third. The current council members' salaries are $6,579.84 annually for a combined total of $39,479.04. The current mayor salary is $41,813.00 annually.
Councilperson Dionne Merrit said she had talked to people in the community and thought that the one-third cut, lowering the mayor's salary to $27,000, was too low and that $36,000 per year was a more reasonable figure.
Councilman Gary Southerland made the motion that city council and mayoral salaries be kept at their current levels, Councilwoman Sharon Johnson second the motion and a roll-call vote was called. Council members Gary Southerland, Russell Givens, and Sharon Johnson voted in favor of retaining the current salaries, with Dionne Merrit, Allen Meredith, and Terrell House casting their votes against the motion.
Under the Mayor/Council system of municipal government, tie votes are decided by the mayor casting a tie-breaking vote. Mayor Linda Keown voted in favor of retaining the current salaries, meaning the measure passed.
After the meeting Keown cited varying reasons for her vote. She stated that now that she has held the jobs of both the mayor and city council she better understands the importance and difficulty of the offices. She further stated that after holding the mayor's office for four years, she realizes that it is a full-time job.
Keown thinks it's important to keep the mayor's salary high enough to make the office attractive to younger people who have to support families while in office. She said that in attending various mayoral meetings and conferences in the state she has noticed that most mayors tend to be older persons. According to Keown, lower pay is fine for older individuals who are more established and stable financially, but might prevent interest in a younger person that needed full-time income while in office.
The Industrial Holding Corporation met prior to the council meeting and approved an equipment purchase for Kentucky Copper. The council also approved deferrment of payments to the city from Kentucky Copper for six months.
After the council meeting the council conducted a work session concerning the website development. Members of Yellowberri were present for the work session to continue discussions pertaining to the construction of the new city website. Dalton Rowe, a Yellowberri web designer who is spearheading the back-end development of the site, gave a brief tour of the site. After receiving some feedback about the look and function of the site, Rowe continued the presentation by giving a tutorial to council members and the mayor showing them how to post new material to the site. Josh Hampton, Yellowberri Operations Officer, was also present and helped field questions about the purpose and use of the site. The council agreed that they were pleased with the direction of the project and look forward to its completion. Launch of the site remains on schedule for mid-April.
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