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MW council deadlocks; pay for next mayor to remain same

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By Alex Wimsatt

    MOUNT WASHINGTON - It appears that whoever becomes the next mayor of Mount Washington, the pay level will not be changed.

    During a special meeting Tuesday, the Mount Washington City Council failed to pass an ordinance amending ordinance 08-12, which was approved in 2008 increasing the mayor’s salary from $21,182 to $54,000 beginning January 1, 2011.

    If passed, the amendment would have lowered the next mayor’s salary from $54,000 to $35,000.

    After council members reached a deadlock, mayor Joetta Calhoun stated that she would not cast the tie breaking vote because she didn’t feel it was right to vote on her own salary.

    Without the mayor’s tie breaking vote, the measure failed.

    Councilmen Shot Dooley, Barry Armstrong and Gary Lawson voted against the proposed salary decrease, while councilmen Larry Porter, Dale Walter and Dennis Griffin voted for it.

    Griffin introduced the ordinance for first reading at the council’s regular meeting on April 12. The councilman said he was concerned that the nearly $35,000 pay increase the council passed in 2008 was too much at one time.

    “I thought it was too big an increase. It’s too big of a jump all at one time,” Griffin said. “I can understand what they’re trying to do, but we can’t justify that big of an increase that quick.”

    Griffin said he came up with the sum of $35,000 because it was between the mayor’s current salary and the $54,000 salary the 2007-2009 council approved.

    He added that the mayor’s position merited $54,000, he just felt the increase should have been more gradual.

    The last time the mayor’s salary was raised was July 24, 2000, when the council raised the mayor’s salary to $19,200.

    Since 2000, cost of living increases brought the mayor’s salary to the current $21,182 .

    Armstrong, who voted against the ordinance, didn’t think the mayor’s salary should be lowered to $35,000. He cited the populations of several area communities and the mayor’s salaries in those communities, arguing that many cities with smaller populations than Mount Washington’s paid their mayors more.

    The councilman said Shelbyville had a population of 11,294 and its mayor earned $59,000 a year and Shepherdsville had a population of 9,203 paying its mayor $53,500 a year.

    Armstrong said Mount Washington had a population of 11,980, according to the US Census 2008 population estimate. He claimed that the $54,000 salary would not only make the office more competitive with other communities, it would also encourage more qualified people to seek the office.

    “There are many well qualified people living in our city who might consider making themselves available to run for the office, but would not do so for financial reasons,” Armstrong said.

    “I believe this position should pay enough money to encourage competition for the office. Keeping the salary low and or lowering the current salary will most certainly lower the competition for the office.”

    Armstrong also said the mayor had many responsibilities in the full time position, and the city could afford to pay the $54,000 salary.

    Mayor Calhoun said she was never going to cast a vote on her position’s salary one way or the other. She didn’t say whether she was opposed to a salary increase for the mayor or in favor of it.