Vidalia alderman proposes compensation for attending special meetings

Published 12:14 am Monday, October 16, 2017


VIDALIA — A Vidalia alderman last week proposed board members should receive compensation for special meetings of the board, but two others said they opposed the idea.

Alderman Robert Gardner said only aldermen are not compensated for special meetings, and it can be tough when the alderman has to leave a job that is his or her primary source of income. Gardner said he thought $100 to $150 per special meeting would be appropriate.

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“If you have to miss work, you should be compensated for missed time,” Gardner said. “I feel like something needs to be put in place.”

The board had approved an ordinance to set aldermen salary at $8,428 per year. Town Attorney George Murray said to increase that, another ordinance would have to be passed.

Some residents had questions on if the change would have to wait until the next term, as the board technically set the salary by ordinance for the four-year term starting July 1, 2016.

Mayor Buz Craft said the town would have to research that, as this topic was only in the discussion stage. Craft said he was aware of some municipalities in the state who do allow aldermen additional pay for special meetings.

Resident Bill McDonough said the people of Vidalia need a break. He said the town is paying $166,000 on benefits for some aldermen and the town has had to pay a lot out recently on deals negotiated by the previous administration. Gardner has said he did not take the town’s health insurance.

“You have to stop somewhere,” McDonough said. “You agreed to come work for ($8,428). If coming up is inconveniencing yourself, you need to quit the job.”

Some residents were also concerned because some aldermen ran for office on a platform of making cuts to the town budget, not additions. Craft clarified that the town has made many cuts like many candidates promised during the campaign, and he would be happy to sit down with anyone to show those cuts. Craft announced in 2016 the town had cut more than $1 million in spending.

McDonough replied, “Let’s not start adding back.”

Alderwoman Sabrina Doré said she was not for aldermen receiving pay for special meetings.

“I am not in any way asking for additional compensation,” she said.

Alderman Tommy Probst said at the last Vidalia meeting he brought up a 10 percent reduction to alderman pay, and that’s what he is for.

Alderman Jon Betts did not offer any thoughts on the subject, and Alderman Tron McCoy was not present.

Craft said he would bring the issue back up for discussion at a future meeting. Aldermen did not take any action.