I’ve received a few emails about the salary increase that went into effect this year for Doraville’s city council and mayor. The city council members’ salaries went up from $8,400 per year to $14,800. The mayor’s salary went from $14,800 to $18,000. The council voted on this change in August 2017. While she was not able to vote on this item because she was caring for her dying husband, Dawn O’Connor introduced this agenda item and spoke with me about it at length earlier this week. She told me she sponsored this legislation because she wanted to restore the cuts that had been made to council salaries during the recession.
Most of the emails I have received have been concerned about the mayor’s salary increase. I think this concern needs to be looked at in context with what neighboring municipalities pay their own part-time mayors:
- Brookhaven – $16,000
- Chamblee – $18,000
- Dunwoody – $16,000
- Tucker – $20,000
- Average: $17,500
With the increase, Doraville is finally back in line with what other cities in this area pay their Mayors.
No one is going to run for mayor or council for the pay. That said, underpaying for these jobs makes it more likely that only people who are wealthy or retired can afford to run for office. We need to pay enough to be sure that the best people for the jobs are able to afford to run and serve.
Along with the email questions about the salary increases, some people have been advocating a charter change that would eliminate the mayor’s position and have the council members take turns as “acting mayor” with the goal of saving $18,000 a year.
If the council considered this, we would have to figure out a way to ensure there are no tie votes, while maintaining a balance between the districts. A majority of council would have to approve the change in our form of government, and then we’d need to get the majority of the city to vote in favor of it in the next general election. Changing the charter is a big deal, and I am not sure that the government we would get from the change that’s being discussed would be any better than the one we have now.
I’m much more interested in working with the council we have today to bring Doraville’s zoning and ordinances into line with those of our neighbors, in identifying landlords who are evading our city’s taxes, and in redeveloping the former GM Plant as well as our downtown.