Atlanta Council Raises Own Pay, Supports Same-sex Marriage

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(APN) ATLANTA — The City Council of Atlanta approved a fifty percent pay raise for Council Members and a substantial increase for the Mayor of Atlanta, during its Full Council Meeting on Monday, December 03, 2012.

In addition, the Council approved a resolution introduced by Councilman Alex Wan (District 6) to express the opinion of the City of Atlanta as in support of same-sex marriage.

Both measures face a possible Mayoral veto.

Also the Council approved an ordinance funding People TV through 2014 in the amount of 350,000 dollars.

As for the pay raise, the Council has adopted recommendations issued by the Elected Officials Compensation Commission, which is tasked by a part of the Charter of the City of Atlanta with reviewing such pay increases every four years.

Council Members currently make 39,473 dollars per year. The commission proposed a cost of living adjustment to 45,300, and an additional 15,000 dollar raise to 60,300 dollars per year.

The rationale behind the increase is that serving on the City Council is more of a full-time than a part-time job. The current City Charter neither defines the job as a part-time nor a full-time position, but the work required can take up to sixty hours per week or more.

The Council salary increase is intended to “reflect the comprehensive nature of the job,” Michael Tyler, Interim Director of Communications, told Atlanta Progressive News.

Local corporate news media, particularly Fox 5 television news, have sensationalized such a large increase during a time of budget cuts and public pension cuts.

Yet, many news reports have not noted that there are currently several Council Members, including Wan and Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who work full-time jobs on top of serving on Council, and who have historically used the part-time pay structure to justify the outside employment.

Meanwhile, other Council Members treat their Council position as if it is full-time, but are not getting paid accordingly, many of whom still have student loans to repay.

Voting in favor were Carla Smith, Cleta Winslow, Wan, Howard Shook, Yolanda Adrean, Felicia Moore, Joyce Sheperd, Michael Julian Bond, Aaron Watson, and Lamar Willis.

Voting against were Kwanza Hall, Natalyn Archibong, CT Martin, and Keisha Lance Bottoms. Ivory Young was absent.

The legislation will also increase the Mayor’s annual salary from the current rate of 147,500 dollars per year, to 184,300, reflecting a cost of living increase to 169,300, and an additional 15,000 dollars to make Atlanta’s Mayoral salary more competitive with other US cities.

If the Mayor does not successfully veto the legislation, the increase will take effect in 2014, when the new Council term begins.

The Commission also recommended a salary increase for members of the Atlanta Board of Education; however, the Board is to consider the issue of its own possible pay increase separately.

On same-sex marriage, eleven voted in favor, two opposed, and two were absent.

Smith, Winslow, Archibong, Wan, Adrean, Moore, Bottoms, Sheperd, Bond, Watson, and Willis voted yea.

Martin and Shook voted nay. Hall and Young were absent.

Finally, on People TV, the Council approved the new funding with fourteen in favor, none opposed, and Young absent. No new amendments were made since the legislation passed Finance/Executive Cmte, as was previously reported by APN.

(END/2012)

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