The Mayor and City Council of LaGrange were back at work this past Tuesday night, November 28th, with their regularly scheduled meeting and work session. There was a lot to do on that day’s agenda, with the Mayor and Council poring over the various items of business that were discussed at both the meeting that night and the work session from earlier that morning. As the city moves closer to the end of the year and two new city councilors prepare to come on board, there was one issue that took center stage during the closing moments of the city council meeting that sparked a lot of debate amongst the councilors.
One of the main topics of discussion that night was the proposed pay increase for retiring city councilors. A motion was brought forward to raise the retirement rate for retiring city councilors from $25 a month per year of service to $50 a month per year of service. While the action could not be passed that night, what was passed was a motion preparing the city staff to draw up the paperwork to begin the process, with the formal vote set to happen at the next meeting.
There was a decent amount of discussion about this amongst the councilors, with two voting against the motion. There was questioning as to whether or not two councilors that are set to step down in January, Councilwoman Norma Tucker and Councilman Nick Woodson, should vote on this particular item. Councilmen Mark Mitchell and Tom Gore voted against this motion where as Councilmen LeGree McCamey and Willie Edmonson voted for the increase, along with Tucker and Woodson. Tucker has 12 years of service with the city and Woodson has accumulated 20 years, meaning their pay would increase to $7,200 per year and $12,000 per year respectively. This could potentially cost the city of La-Grange hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased benefits. This would be spent annually out of the city’s budget.
The City staff has done a great deal of research on this topic, sampling several other pay rates from like communities. They found that the average rate of pay across these different communities to be around the $38 mark. The bill would not take effect until the beginning of 2018 and retiring councilors would have to reach an age of 65 to receive these benefits. The action would not be retroactive, so other already retired city councilors would not be eligible for this increase. The decision also has to pass through the Georgia Municipal Association. The draft of the ordinance will be reviewed during the city’s next meeting on December 12th at 5:30 pm.