Council Talks Money

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Two years ago, when a new salary schedule was adopted by the city of Meridian, it also raised the mayor's salary to $75,000 per year. At that time the council added a paragraph that no employee could make more than the mayor.

The 2.5 percent pay raise in this year's budget would put two department heads over that amount.

Ward 1 Councilman Dr. George Thomas said he would like to keep it that way.

"I just think the mayor should be the highest-paid person in the city of Meridian. That's their job, to run the city," said Thomas.

But Mayor John Robert Smith said that law encourages talented people to leave for the private sector.

"This year Ken Storms and Ed Skipper would both be capped and not receive a pay increase this year," said Smith. "Next year, there will be two more department heads that will be limited by the cap placed on my salary."

Those two would be Don Farrar, who heads community development, and Monty Jackson, who directs public works.

Thomas said he thinks public works is under funded and should be given more, even if taxes have to be raised.

"Personally I'd like to see more money in public works, even though it might include an increase in taxation," Thomas said. "I just think we're at the point if we want things done, we've got to pay for it."

Speaking of tax dollars, the city was asked to approve a $500 donation to help fund a birthday bash in New Orleans for Saints player Kenny Smith from Meridian. Thomas spoke out.

"I think this is a total waste of money," said Thomas. "It's just my opinion.
We're going to start giving $500 to somebody having a birthday party? To put signs up saying they're from Meridian? I think that's a waste of money."

The majority of the council did not agree. The donation was approved three to two with Jesse Palmer, Mary Perry and Bobby Smith in favor, Thomas and Barbara Henson opposed.


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