No pay raise for mayor, council

COVINGTON - The City Council took a proposed pay raise off the table Monday night on the advice of City Manager Steve Horton.

The council was set to vote on a salary increase from $12,000 to $18,000 for Mayor Kim Carter and from $6,000 to $9,000 for council members.

The current salaries have been in effect since 1977. The pay raise would amount to an increase of about $24,000 in the budget.

Horton advised the council to hold off on the increase due to the current economic climate.

Horton said he attended Newton County's Saturday work session where commissioners grappled with how to make up an estimated $5 million shortfall in this year's budget.

Though the city is in good financial condition right now, the future is uncertain, he said.

"Even though we have some real money, that can only last for so long," Horton told the council during a work session before the meeting.

Horton later said city staff members are making every effort to conserve money.

"We are looking on an everyday basis at where we are and how much money we're spending," he said, adding he didn't want to give the impression that "Covington is flying under some different set of guidelines."

He requested the council table the matter until a later date.

During the council meeting, City Attorney Ed Crudup advised the council to take the pay increase off the agenda rather than tabling it, noting they could still address it at a later date.

The council unanimously agreed to remove it from the agenda.

"It does make more prudent sense until we have more information," Carter said.

City ordinance requires any pay raise for elected officials to be approved before qualifying for the next election. Qualifying for the 2009 Municipal Election takes place Aug. 31 through Sept. 4.

Carter said that would give the council plenty of time to enact the pay raise, if they so choose, to go into effect by Jan. 1.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.