By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
HUBBARD — City council is demanding a review of two pay raises issued by Mayor Arthur Magee in early 2007.
The mayor’s secretary and the superintendent of streets both received 3.5 percent raises in January 2007. But Councilman William Williams said he didn’t learn about the increase until early this year.
“Raises were granted, and council knew nothing about them,” said Williams. “That’s not proper.”
Council members met in a work session Wednesday, where indignation about the issue was widespread, according to Councilman Patton Gilliland. Gilliland said he did not discover the expenditure until reviewing the city’s financial records this January.
“Council is much shook up,” he said. “We want every penny paid back.”
The raises boosted mayor’s secretary, Lorrie Brown’s salary from $26,500 to $27,427.50. Street Superintendent Paul Collins’ annual pay jumped from $42,160 to $43,635.60, according to Magee.
Magee said his decision to issue the increase constitutes an administrative function. The raises were granted only after a large group of union employees received identical increases, he said.
“Fifty-some employees got a raise; two people didn’t,” he said. “I felt I had to give them a raise. They’re probably the two hardest-working people.”
But Williams said he would have preferred to have been consulted or notified about the decision. The councilman said he is concerned about the city’s finances in the aftermath of widespead layoffs at Delphi Packard.
“Council wasn’t going to grant any pay raises until we saw where we were at,” he said. “We want to see how much money we do have to spend.”
Magee said he doesn’t expect the expenditure to have a significant effect on the city’s finances, which, he said, are in good order.
“The idea was to treat people equally and fairly,” he said. “We give 50 people a raise, but we’re going to refuse to give two people a raise to balance the budget?”
According to Gilliland, the city’s law director, Jeff Adler, issued an opinion that the city’s law is ambiguous to the issue of council authorization for the payment of nonunion employees.
Council members have asked that Adler prepare legislation requiring council consent for nonunion raises and freeze pay rates for the mayor’s secretary and superintendent of streets this year. The changes will be discussed at the city council meeting at 8 p.m. Monday.