Vidalia Aldermen give themselves, police chief, other employees raises during special meeting

Published 6:00 am Saturday, June 24, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — The Vidalia Mayor and Board of Aldermen unanimously approved an “across the board” pay raise to town employees, including themselves and other elected officials, during a special called meeting Friday.

A motion by Alderwoman Rosa Demby to adopt a 10 percent raise for all employees died for lack of a second from another alderperson. However, a subsequent motion by Alderman Robert Gardner to adopt a 5 percent raise for all employees was seconded by Alderman Jon Betts and passed by a majority vote of 4-0. Alderman Brent Smith was absent during the meeting.

In a discussion before Gardner’s motion, Gardner agreed to a raise of “the same amount given last time” that the town approved raises, he said.

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The board last approved a five percent raise for everyone, including the elected aldermen and police chief, in July 2022.

The same was approved Friday in a live-streamed public meeting.

The meeting included only a few agenda items: to hold a public hearing and amend the operating budget from the 2022-23 fiscal year that ends June 30; to clarify minutes from the June 13 regularly scheduled board meeting; and an executive session to discuss litigation matters that involve the town.

The board adopted the raise during the “clarify minutes” portion of the meeting after Mayor Buz Craft asked aldermen where they stood on giving raises.

Also during this portion of the meeting, officials discussed using American Rescue Plan Act funds to offset the rising cost of utilities so that Vidalia residents wouldn’t take on the burden when paying their utility bills.

“We know during the summer time, (their bills) are going to go up just from usage,” Craft said. “I think it’s a great thing to do. We just need to clarify where we talked about it, but we never said whether we were going to do that or not.”

A motion to do so was made by Aldermen Betts and seconded by Aldermen Gardner and passed 4-0.

After exiting the executive session Friday, the aldermen voted 4-0 to “proceed with the recommendation of the attorney” on the litigation matter, which wasn’t specified.

Executive sessions are not open to the public or to the media.