Union's next mayor will earn half the salary of his immediate predecessors and not work with an administrator.
Union City Council voted unanimously this morning to reduce the mayor's annual salary from $103,545 to $56,000. The change was recommended by the council's finance committee composed of council members Fran Bailey and Ricky Harris. In making the motion, Mrs. Bailey said the package will include the actual salary ($48,800), a car allowance ($5,400) and a phone allowance ($1,800) as well as the other benefits received by city personnel.
Mrs. Bailey said the salary will allow the mayor to work full-time for the city.
“We looked at what we previously paid the mayor for a phone and a car and then determined a salary that would allow someone to give up their job to become mayor,” she said. “We want someone to be here on a day-to-day basis and do what we need them to do.”
The new salary will not take effect until a new mayor is inaugurated after the November election.
During the discussion of the motion, Acting Mayor Harold Thompson announced that council had decided against hiring what would have been the city's first administrator in four years. The city's last administrator was dismissed by council after voters approved a referendum changing the city's government from council to strong mayor. Council then voted to combine the mayor's office and salary ($6,610) with the office and salary ($96,935) of the administrator.
Council was considering hiring an administrator in the wake of the resignation of Mayor Bruce Morgan on federal extortion charges.
“Almost four years ago the citizens voted for a strong mayor and council did away with the administrator,” Thompson said. “Over the last few days we've met with the department heads and consulted with the public. The department heads are doing a good job and the public's position is that we not hire an administrator but continue with the strong mayor system they voted for with the mayor continuing to manage things.”
Thompson said the department heads will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of their departments but will refer matters involving policy or major expenditures to the mayor and council. The mayor's primary responsibilities will be to facilitate economic development, work with other government agencies, represent the city at conferences and, together with council, have the ultimate oversight responsibility for city government.
Mrs. Bailey said she received a similar message from the public, adding that under the strong mayor system an administrator would have no power and simply be another employee.
“We've received a million phone calls and a lot of feedback from the community and the consensus is that they voted for a strong mayor and don't want or need an administrator,” she said. “With the way the state law is written all power would stay with the mayor and council and the administrator would be just another body in the building.”