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|Pay hikes proposed for Vidalia mayor, council, employees|
The Vidalia Town Council -- on a 3-2 vote -- agreed Tuesday night to prefile an ordinance boosting salaries for the mayor, aldermen and city employees.
The pay raises proposed will lift Mayor Hyram Copeland's annual salary $10,000 from $53,500 to $69,500; the police chief $10,100 from $44,900 to $55,000 annually; aldermen from $250 to $600 monthly; and includes an across the board three percent raise for town employees.
If approved at the Council's July meeting, the pay hikes will go into effect July 1st.
City Manager Ken Walker said the raises are possible due to a combination of savings and increased sales tax receipts, a recent decision to lease a garbage truck instead of purchasing a new one, and a plan to restructure the way the city vehicles are used.
"We also underbudget for sales tax revenue," he said. "That revenue has doubled in the last eight years."
Walker also said that he conducted comparison studies of Louisiana cities of the same size -- Tallulah, Rayne, Winnfield and New Roads.
"We need to stay in the ballpark with cities of our size," said Copeland. "Our alderman have not had a raise in 16 years. I think it is within reason."
"As for the increase in the mayor's salary, I'll have to let someone else speak to that," he said.
Walker said that the mayor's salary is the lowest paid for a city of Vidalia's size.
"I think the intention is good here," said alderman Ricky Knapp. "Some parts of this are past due, but I have trouble justifying some of this."
"I think it would have been better voted on as seperate items," he continued.
"How do you come up with the amounts?" questioned alderman Jon Betts. "It seems to be quite signficant."
Knapp and Betts voted against prefiling the ordinance.
"We have even more businesses coming to Vidalia," said Copeland. "Our city employees have done an excellent job."
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