Stockbridge Council votes for pay boost

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The mayor and city council of Stockbridge will be making more money in the future, thanks to the council’s vote at its March 9 regular meeting.

The annual salaries for council members are slated to increase from $8,400 to $12,000 under the measure, while the mayor’s salary goes from $10,800 to $14,400.

None of the raises take effect right now. The earliest anyone would make the higher salary is January of 2016, when the current terms of Robin Buschman, Regina Lewis Ward and Alphonso Thomas have ended and they or their successors are sworn in. The current terms of council members Anthony Ford and LaKeisha Gantt, as well as Mayor Tim Thompson, do not expire until the end of 2017.

Thompson was not in attendance at the meeting, which was presided over by Thomas, the mayor pro tem.

There was little discussion about the matter before the vote, as it has been talked about previously for a few months.

Ford made a statement during which he said he would not be supporting the measure “as a matter of principle” but the council would move forward in unison regardless of the outcome.

“If it passes, it passes,” he said. “It is my duty and responsibility to support it.”

Ford also made some general comments about the city leadership’s need to work as a team and that he and his colleagues are held to a higher standard because they are elected officials.

“We need to be professional, upbeat and as positive as possible,” he said, adding that he hoped the local residents were seeing improvement over the past year. “We all need to be a little better at serving you, the citizens.”

Buschman moved to approve the measure and Ward seconded. When Thomas called for the vote, only Buschman and Ward raised their hands affirmatively.

Ford voted no. Gantt voted to abstain, although she gave no reason for doing so.

Thomas initially called it a majority vote, but city attorney Michael Williams pointed out that, since only two were in favor and there are five council members, he would need to check and make sure the city’s ordinance do not require three votes to pass.

“I understand I am eligible to vote,” Thomas replied. “If I need to do that to make it clear, I will vote in favor.”

When contacted two days after the meeting, Gantt said she was not comfortable voting for a raise after only 15 months in office but it was not inappropriate for the council to take such a vote.

“One day I may feel comfortable doing so, but just not right now,” she said.