Some Hull leaders say it’s time to lure more candidates to office with bigger pay checks, while another disagrees.
The Hull City Council couldn’t reach an agreement Monday night on whether to increase the annual pay for the mayor and the four council positions and will revisit the issue next month.
It will make a decision after comparing its pay with that of other city councils in the county.
Councilwoman Becky Elkins proposed the pay increases as an incentive for people to seek council seats. Hull has had recent troubles keeping a full council due to lack of community interest.
Earlier this year, the city didn’t have enough members to form quorum and cast votes.
Elkins sought raises from $650 to $1,050 for council members, $1,250 to $2,000 for the mayor and $2,500 to $4,000 for the city clerk.
Mayor pro-tem Paul Elkins, who noted that council members used to be paid nothing, agreed that the pay should be at least semi-attractive.
“We have experienced such difficulty in getting people interested in government, that perhaps this would be a way to entice someone to want to serve,” Paul Elkins said.
City attorney Pat Graham reminded the council that the pay raises would have to take effect when the next term of office begins.
By law, council members can’t raise their own pay during their own term. That stipulation, however, doesn’t apply to the city clerk position.
Not everyone was a fan of seeing their pay increased.
Councilman Wayne Melton was staunchly against the raises, saying that 60 percent increases were “a pretty hefty increase,’ which Hull couldn’t afford.
“I’d like to see (the money go to) things in the city that would promote the city more,” he said.
Melton contended that council spots were “tokenary” positions. He said that he didn’t seek office for the $650 paycheck, nor any subsequent raises.
“I wouldn’t come here for $1,050 … You couldn’t buy me for that kind of money,” he said. “It doesn’t work for me. I don’t do it for the money.”
But both Elkins, again, pointed to Hull’s struggles to fill the council table.
The city had operated with two posts vacated before Melton and Paul Cook filled those spots this year.
Melton that so few seek office in Hull because they don’t know city hall exists. Melton admitted that he lived next door to a councilman for years, unaware that his neighbor was a city elected official.
“The problem here in this city is that nobody knows that there’s a city of Hull, they don’t know there’s a city council, they don’t know there’s a mayor,” Melton said. “That’s the problem.”
The collective increase of the raises would be $3,800. That’s money that Melton said could be applied toward an upcoming city survey.
“We ought prioritize the way we spend out money if we want the city of Hull to grow,” Melton said.
“We have to prioritize how we intend to keep good people in government, as well,” Paul Elkins responded.
Mayor Becky Hutchins wasn t present at the meeting to weigh in on the issue.
One pay raise was approved, however.
The council approved clerk Sandra Pou's raise by $1,500. Melton cast the “no” vote.
There was also a disagreement over how Hull leaders approved their last pay raise.
Graham said the city followed the law by approving the raises to take effect for the next term, but Becky Elkins said raises took effect during those terms.