Councilman John Beresford said Wednesday that he called for the discussion and that a raise for the city council and mayor is long overdue.
Right now, members of the Canton City Council make $2,100 a year and the mayor receives $3,500.
The plan now up for discussion would raise the pay to $8,000 a year for council members and $10,000 for the mayor, which is about a 300 percent increase.
The city council last touched on the issue in December 2012 and voted for the raises to go through.
But 10 days later the pay hikes died when Mayor Gene Hobgood vetoed the action, and the council then voted to sustain his veto.
Hobgood said Wednesday that, if necessary, he’ll use his veto power to stop the raises again.
Beresford said the raises are needed, and that the pay they receive right now is just too little for the amount of work they do. He said he’ll keep pushing the issue until pay raises go through.
“The councilmen work their tails off for (their salaries),” he said. “I calculated it out once using rough numbers, and it came out to be about 58 cents an hour.”
Hobgood said he won’t support raises at this time, even though any salary changes made now would only affect those elected to the city council and the mayor’s office in future, and not any on the payroll now.
Hobgood said his opposition is in large part because elections for several of these positions are coming up later this year.
“Some of the incumbents may be running for re-election,” Hobgood said. “It doesn’t seem like a good time to be going out for yourself a pay raise.”
Hobgood did, however, agree with Beresford’s argument that the current salaries are low when compared to other cities in the county.
With nearly 23,000 residents, Canton is the second most populated city in Cherokee County, just behind Woodstock.
The city council members and mayor of Woodstock, however, make more than three times the amount each year for the same positions in Canton, with their council members pulling in $9,000 a year and their mayor $12,000.
Hobgood said that’s beside the point.
“I’ve never really thought the city of Canton ought to pattern itself after other cities in the county,” he said. “(The salaries are) low, and I think raises will come. But why now?”
If it takes money to interest other candidates to run they shouldn’t run, he said.
Beresford, though, contended that money wasn’t what made him run for his seat on the council at all.
“I got into this to serve,” he said.
Beresford added that, whatever the outcome of the council’s discussion tonight, he will just keep bringing up the issue until it’s resolved to his satisfaction.
“I will continue bringing it forward, election year, no election year,” he said. “When you take next nothing and increase it by 300 percent, it’s still next to nothing.”
Councilman Hooky Huffman said he agrees with Beresford that it’s time for a raise.
“If you want people to come in there that have a half a mind,” he said, “you gotta give them some incentive.”