JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Mixed emotions were across the board in the Jonesboro City Council meeting as members discussed the possibility of a 6% percent raise for elected officials.
Those concerns were brought about during the finance committee meeting but were reemphasized Tuesday evening.
The ordinance would, in fact, give the mayor, city attorney, city clerk and 12 councilmen a bump in the cost of living expenses but that money would have to come from the city's reserve fund and money left over from other budget line items.
Joe Hafner, chair of the finance committee and councilman, said having that happen concerns him.
"The fact that we would have to dip into the reserves, which we already added $2 million dollars to that budget worries me," said Hafner.
Hafner also stated he doesn't think this these raises should be retroactive which the ordinance states. He also brought up the fact that he feels those new on the board should not receive the raise.
"If this were to pass as is, I think it should be a 3% raise and first-term alderman should not receive it," said Hafner. "We mentioned earlier that the reserves could be up in 5-6 years and we would have cut capital expenses. I think this would be the way to do if this is approved."
However, councilmen Charles Frierson and Chris Moore disagreed, saying the raises should be granted to all or none.
One councilman mentioned that having better compensation for elected officials would be great based on the work they do for the city.
David McClain said he was worried about the long term effects of this ordinance.
"Again, I don't think it is time," said McClain. "When you say we may have to create a sales tax in the future or cut capital improvement projects, I don't think it is worth it with all that being a possibility."
Mayor Harold Perrin also stated that down the line this may result in possible layoffs and freezes on salaries. He emphasized that the budget for 2018-2019 would be tight.
Other council members felt, based on the salary survey study they conducted comparing Jonesboro to other Arkansas cities, the pay that elected officials are currently receiving is where it needs to be.
Residents, however, felt this ordinance should not be based on the comparison to any other city at all.
"I don't think we as the city of Jonesboro needs to compare ourselves to anyone in Fayetteville or anyone in other places because we are Jonesboro," said Phillip Cook, a concerned citizen.
In the end, the council voted to place the issue on its second reading.
The issue will be discussed at the next city council meeting on September 19.
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