As the City Council prepares for some budget housekeeping tonight, we need to do some ourselves.
We promised some time ago to give exact figures on the salaries and benefits for the City Council and mayor; now that the budget is about to be enacted, it’s about time we fulfilled that promise.
Mayor Clem Seifert’s city salary is $5,317 per year. Each of the eight council members will receive $1,943 per year. In addition, the budget includes travel money for each of the nine: $2,450 for Seifert; $1,980 for Mayor Pro Tem Bernard Alston; and $1,320 for each of the other seven council members.
The council members get the same individual health insurance as full-time city employees, and Seifert gets the employee-and-child coverage free.
The original budget also set aside $22,200 for lobbying trips, National League of Cities and North Carolina League of Municipalities conferences, and miscellaneous other meetings. To be honest, we don’t know whether that money remains in the 2005-06 spending plan, but we never heard anyone ask to remove it.
Given recent discussions on this site, we also feel compelled to report that the city is due in 2005-06 to make the second of three annual $522 payments on a computer for the mayor, and the city pays $700 a year for his cellphone.
No such benefits are forthcoming for the council.
At its last full meeting June 6, the council on a 5-3 vote rejected the idea of setting aside some office space, a computer, a phone line and some file cabinets for council members’ use. All eight members would have shared the space and equipment.
Elissa Yount, who proposed the idea in part because she has no workplace to keep the steady stream of papers flowing to council members, had the support of Mary Emma Evans and Ranger Wilkerson on the losing side. Seifert said the idea made sense.
But John Wester and Harriette Butler said council members had no business hanging around the city government all the time, looking over employees’ shoulders. And Butler said the expense, although nominal, would send a bad message to city residents.
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