Canton City Council OKs pay raises, nixes pension benefits
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
December 26, 2012 12:05 AM | 1852 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — A few things about serving on the Canton City Council are changing.

At Thursday’s meeting, the council voted to eliminate pensions for council members, voted to raise the council and mayor’s salaries and approved a resolution in support of term limits.

The elimination of pensions will take effect for any elected official who begins a term after Jan. 1, 2013.

Members now serving on the council will receive pension benefits for their current terms and past terms. If any member is re-elected after Jan. 1, he will not receive pensions benefits for that future term.

Mayor Gene Hobgood said the city will save about $65,000 a year by not paying into pension accounts for elected officials. The city pays in the money during a council member’s time in service.

The city’s pension for elected officials pays out $256 per month for each four-year term served, according to city officials.

In a separate vote, the council voted to raise council salaries from $2,100 per year to $8,000 per year and raise the mayor’s salary from $3,000 per year to $10,000 per year.

“We first eliminated the pensions, which is really much more lucrative to us than the salary,” Council Member Bill Bryan said.

The raise will be effective at the earliest date state law permits, which City Attorney Bobby Dyer said is January 2014 when a new term of office will begin for three council seats.

“Three of us won’t even see the raise unless we get re-elected,” Bryan said.

Bryan said he hopes the higher salary will encourage younger people to run for city council.

Council Member Glen Cummins shared the same reasoning for voting for the salary increase.

“We have a council that’s basically made up of old retired men, and that’s not really a good makeup,” he said. “I would like to see us have the ability to attract (younger people), and I think if we have that compensation in there, we can.”

He added that an annual salary of $8,000 can supplement a younger family’s income.

The council plans to submit a resolution on term limits to local legislators.

The resolution states that anyone elected to their first term as mayor or council member during or after 2013 shall serve no more than two consecutive terms in that position.

Council members who serve two consecutive terms can run for mayor, and vice versa.

Term limits for municipalities must be changed through legislation, so the city council will present their resolution to the local legislative delegation, which can then decide whether to introduce local legislation for a vote in the General Assembly.

The local delegation only considers introducing local legislation if the local governing body requesting legislation has unanimously approved seeking legislation on the issue at hand.

Hobgood said the official resolution will have signature lines for him and all six council members. The vote on the resolution passed unanimously in the meeting.
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