Raise for Turrell mayor

Raise for Turrell mayor

Cooper to get $ 4,000/ year pay hike

news@theeveningtimes.com

After nearly two years of fighting with her city council, Turrell Mayor Dorothy Cooper has finally been given a pay raise.

The city council voted unanimously to boost the mayor’s salary by $4,000 — from $12,000 a year to $16,000 a year.

“I’m thankful,” Cooper said. “I had to speak up and plead my case.”

The mayor’s salary became a contentious issue from the moment Cooper assumed office in January 2015. Cooper butted heads with the council after they voted to reduce the mayor’s salary from $2,000 a month to $1,000. The move to cut the salary was voted on during a special meeting the day before the run-off election, which Cooper subsequently won.

Cooper claimed all along that the council did not follow state law when they reduced the mayor’s salary and only did it because she was elected mayor. She contended that state law did not allow cities to decrease salaries during the terms in which officials have been elected, and that the former mayor did not request the reduction in salary.

Cooper had repeatedly brought the pay raise issue up at council meetings and town hall meetings.

The council held firm, however, countering that it had nothing to do with Cooper winning the mayor’s office. The council only raised the salary because the job required extra work to clean up the mess left by former Mayor Franklin Lockhart, who resigned in September 2010 rather than face charges of malfeasance.

Lockhart was charged with eight counts of malfeasance in office for allegedly moving the city’s money across state lines, giving himself a bonus, and funneling money to pay for wages for an unauthorized police department employee.

Officials claimed the salary increase was only supposed to be temporary for three months, but never revisited the issue during Mayor Allen Spears’s term in office.

The city council also reduced its own salary from $200 to $100 a month at the time.

Cooper said she puts in full time hours as mayor and that $12,000 was not enough to live on.

“Even though the council may think this is a parttime job, I’ve been working full-time hours to get the things to take place that have been happening in Turrell,” Cooper said.

Cooper pointed out that since becoming mayor Turrell has gotten a new library, all of its streets paved, bills paid on time, ditches and trash cleaned up, a new city park, new water tank, and over $500,000 in grants which don’t have to be paid back.

“I really had to show them all I have done for the city in the last two years,” Cooper said.

The city council has agreed to revisit the budget again in July and if funding is available, may increase the mayor’s salary by another

$2,000.

“I would have been really thankful if they had made it $24,000,” Cooper said.

“With this raise, I’m still hungry. But now I can eat a little more.”

By Mark Randall

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