Monday, February 01, 2010

City Council says ‘now is not the time’ for salary increases

ATLANTA –Citing current economic conditions, the Atlanta City Council today opposed any salary increases for the incoming mayor and city council until across the board cost of living increases are given to city employees. (Legislative Reference No. 08-O-2154)

 “It’s a matter of common sense and being sensitive to the impact this economic downturn has had on so many our residents and on our city employees as well,” said City Council President Lisa M. Borders. “We will continue to work diligently to improve the city’s financial position.”

 The Elected Officials Compensation Commission, an independent body which recommends the salaries of incoming elected officials every four years, initially recommended increasing the next mayor of Atlanta’s salary from $147,000 to $225,000 per year. The commission made no recommendation on compensation for city council members, although the average salary for council members in 10 comparable cities amounted to $50,205 per year.

 Any raises would begin in 2010, when the next mayor and city council take office.

 With Monday’s vote and only if financial conditions of the city improve and the next mayor gives all general fund workers an across-the-board raise, the mayor’s salary would increase to $172,575. The council’s annual pay would rise to the current $39,473 to $46,183. The Council President’s salary would increase from $41,000 to $47,970 per year.

 The Elected Officials Compensation Commission spent numerous hours conducting surveys regarding the salaries of elected officials in cities similar to Atlanta in terms of population and government structure, interviewing city of Atlanta elected officials, discussing and debating the issue of salaries for elected officials of the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Board of Education. The Commission submitted its report on October 29, 2008.

“We cannot in good conscience approve salaries increases for any elected official while we have been forced to cut services, lay off employees and furlough others,” said City Councilmember Felicia A. Moore, chair of the Committee on Council, the committee charged with overseeing city council operations and administrative and board appointments.  

The administration projected a $50 million budget shortfall in the general fund and budget adjustments were made to meet the shortfall. Officials say the city is now on track for a balanced budget. The current fiscal year ends June 31.  

In addition, the City Council approved legislation Monday that will enable the City to recoup 100 percent of debts owed on delinquent accounts in collection.  (Legislative Reference No. 08-R-2319)           

MSB Government Services currently collects delinquent accounts and charges the city 19.8 percent on the principal of the amount owed. The city of Atlanta received 80.2 percent of the outstanding debt.

 Under the new plan, sponsored by City Councilmember Anne Fauver, a recovery charge of up to 19.8 percent would be added to a delinquent account.

The City’s former collection agency, ACS, collected $5 million from delinquent accounts and received a compensation of $1.1 million for 2008, according to the city treasury department.

“This is badly needed revenue, Fauver said, now we can capture this money and in today’s economic climate, every dollar helps”.

In other news, Councilmembers approved the rescheduling of the second City Council Meeting from January 19, 2009 (MLK Day) to January 22, 2009 at 1 p.m. (Legislative Reference No.  08-O-2357)   

 The above legislation and a complete list of other items on the council’s agenda can be viewed in their entirety on the Web at: http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/2009/fca0105.htm

 All adopted legislative items and any amendments to those items or substitute papers can be viewed at: http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/Captions/default.asp

 City council minutes can be viewed at: http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/minutes2.htm

 Archived video of Atlanta City Council meetings can be viewed at: http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/video.htm