Pay raises for Jonesboro elected officials voted down by city council members

by George Jared ( 302 views 

Jonesboro elected officials will not receive their first pay hike since 2015 after the City Council voted Tuesday night 10-1 to reject a 6% pay increase.

Before the final vote was tallied, a motion was passed to amend the pay raises for city council members from a vote to increase the salaries of Mayor Harold Perrin, City Clerk Donna Jackson, and City Attorney Carol Duncan. When the vote for Perrin, Jackson, and Duncan failed, the amended version including pay increases for city council members automatically failed. Alderman Dr. Charles Coleman cast the lone “yes” vote.

“With all of our pressing budget and financial issues … I’d like for us to come back with a plan,” Alderman Joe Hafner said.

Had the measure passed, Perrin’s salary would have increased from $119,046 to $126,825; Duncan’s salary would have increased to $109,240; and Jackson’s would have increased to $83,400.

Alderman Gene Vance echoed Hafner’s sentiments. He said the council needs to formulate a comprehensive plan to increase elected officials salaries, and it might be able to be included in the 2018 budget process. Considerations, such as pay for officials in comparable sized cities could be considered.

At one point, after the vote, a citizen challenged the council and Perrin’s integrity after considering the proposed wage increases. Perrin fired back, defending his tenure as mayor.

“I think this council and this administration has been completely transparent,” Perrin said in fiery tones. “If you want to gripe, come see me in my office … I want to make it real clear to you.”

In other business, aldermen discussed at length the licensing of a business seeking a liquor license transfer to a downtown location. Conservative activist Bob Hester gave a lengthy speech as to why the city didn’t need to allow anymore venues to serve alcohol in Jonesboro. He said there are at least 53 that already do, and citizens have voted twice, in 1944 and in 1977 to keep the county dry.

Duncan told council members they could vote to deny the measure, but a lawsuit would be filed in circuit court. A judge would likely rule the applicant complied with the preset conditions outlined by the city in its application process, and the request would then be sent to the ABC Commission in Little Rock for a final review. Duncan said the council could add or take away criteria in the application process that could apply to future applicants.