COVINGTON -- The Covington City Council will get a pay raise in January.
The six council members' salaries are increasing from $6,000 annually to $9,000 and the mayor's salary is increasing from $12,000 to $18,000.
The compensation for elected officials was changed as part of a charter amendment unanimously adopted in May 2012.
This is the first pay increase for the council since 1977.
"It's about time. It's been over 30-something years since we've had a raise and the city's in good shape and that's about all I'm going to say about it," said Councilman Mike Whatley, who along with Chris Smith and Ocie Franklin, served on a committee that recommended the charter changes.
A pay raise has been discussed several times since 2009, but a majority of council members have in the past not been in favor.
Councilman Chris Smith, who has in the past publicly stated he did not support a pay increase, said he felt the timing was right.
"At that point we were struggling financially and I didn't think it was the appropriate time," he said.
Although the pay increase was not specifically addressed during council meetings, Smith noted that the charter committee meetings were open to the public and press.
He said the increase in pay is fair given the council's workload, noting that he puts in at least 40 hours a month on council-related duties.
"I can stand behind what I always said. I knew what the salary was going in and I don't have a problem with it ... but I just felt like the timing was fair at this point that we go ahead and move it to a more appropriate level," he said.
Councilwoman Janet Goodman has been on the council for 33 years, without a pay raise.
She said while serving on the City Council has always been a lot of work, the work load has increased over the years.
“It’s just a matter of how much time and effort you want to put in it yourself. There’s always something to do, always somewhere to go,” she said. “It depends on how involved you become.”
Besides the council’s two work sessions and two regular meetings a month, there are special called meetings, committee meetings and various community events to attend, she said, along with answering constituent concerns. She added that council members are always on call and represent the city wherever they go.
Still, Goodman said she knows “there will never be a time when people will say it’s OK” for a pay raise.
Other council members could not be reached for comment.
According to state law, an increase in compensation "shall not be effective until after the taking of office of those elected at the next regular municipal election which is held immediately following the date on which the action to increase the compensation was taken." Municipal elections take place this November.