After months of debate, the Douglasville City Council in a 4-3 vote Monday approved a new plan that will pay city council members $1,075 and the mayor $3,300 monthly.
The salary increase came just months after it was found that a former mayor and virtually every other former and current city council member received some payments that they weren't entitled to under the pay per meeting system currently in place.
A grand jury called for an end to the per meeting system, saying it was prime for the kind of abuse first discovered by the Sentinel, and then verified through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
While the city council approved the finance committee's compensation recommendation, there was another proposal on the table. Mayor Pro Tem Larry Yockey presented another proposal Thursday that would have paid each city council member $1,000 a month and the mayor $3,000.
Yockey, along with Councilmen Doug Lequire and Carl Pope, voted against the finance committee's recommendation. Councilwoman LaShun Burr Danley, along with Councilmen Sam Davis, Dennis McLain and Mark Adams voted in favor of the proposal.
Harry Sparks of Douglasville, who was the lone citizen to speak in favor of a raise during a previous public hearing, commended the council on its decision.
"I did get a lot of comments because I was the only one who stood up for you at the last meeting," Sparks said during public comments. "People that's against it don't understand you all are working for nothing almost."
He acknowledged that the city's elected officials work part-time, but believes they weren't getting paid enough to cover expenses.
"Gasoline is $3.50 a gallon (and) in some places, more than that," Sparks said. "Back when some of you all first got on the council, gas was probably $2 or $2.40 or $2.50 a gallon. I'm just glad you all stuck up and gave yourself a raise."
He then asked council members if they could look into giving a raise to zoning board members.
"I been on the zoning board for over 20 years and we haven't got a raise yet," Sparks said. "I think you all forget about the zoning board. I have went through three mayors. I'm working on the third mayor now and nobody ever look over at the zoning board and say they been making the same thing for 20 years so I appreciate if you all look and see what you could do for the zoning board in the way of a kind of medium size raise."
He told the council he is the only person on the board who asked for a raise.
"I've been there for 20 years and making that same thing," Sparks said. "Gasoline when I first got on the zoning board 20 years ago (was) 50 cents a gallon. I would appreciate it if you all look at this zoning board and see what you all could do for us."
Mayor Harvey Persons told him the council will look into the request. He asked Pope, the chair of the planning and development committee, to look into the zoning board's pay and come back to the council with a recommendation on the pros and cons of a raise.
The city council also approved three key transportation issues during Monday’s regular meeting. One of the items involves the Highway 92 relocation project. The council authorized Persons to sign deeds and other documents to transfer to the Georgia Department of Transportation the right of way and easements needed from city-owned property.
According to City Manager Bill Osborne, there will be funds provided to the city to cover the cost of relocating the flagpole at the fire station and gateway signage as motorists enter the city from the north side.
City council members also authorized Persons to sign a contract with Bron Cleveland Associates, Inc., for phase two of the lighting and banners project. The contract is to redesign the project’s scope of work, limiting it to the north end of the corridor. The redesign will cost $42,450.
Because the city council decided there was some construction that didn't needed to be done on Campbellton Street, there is close to half a million dollars available for additional work in the Dallas Highway area.
Another transportation project the council acted on involves the creation of a new interchange for the Interstate 20, Highway 5 and Bright Star Road area. Council members authorized the preparation and issuance of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to consulting firms who have demonstrated the capability to do an “Interchange Alternatives Analysis” study area. The study would primarily be funded by the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Transportation.
There have been funds approved for the project in the ARC’s Transportation Improvement Program. The first step is doing the analysis. Eighty percent of the cost is covered by federal funds, with the remaining 20 percent coming from local funding.
After a Request for Qualifications is issued, the city expects a response from consulting firms by early fall.
In other business, the city council voted to direct City Finance Director Karin Callan to move forward in publishing the necessary information as required by law as to what the city's budget will be and indicating also that there will be no tax increase."
The council also Monday:
• Item 20-13-24 - Approved a request for a change in agent outlet manager for the alcoholic beverages licenses for the on-premises sale and consumption of wine and malt beverages, and spirituous liquor at the following establishment: Licensee: TK Douglasville, LLC DBA: S’more BBQ. Location: 6855 Douglas Boulevard. Current Agent Outlet Manager: Seth Ninger. Proposed Agent Outlet Manager: Brian Christopher Alexander The required investigation has been conducted and the required fees have been paid into the City Finance Department.
• Item 23-13-11 - Authorized the Mayor to sign an agreement with Miller Architecture and Planning, the low bidder, for design and architectural services in the amount of $3500.00 for the pro shop expansion at the West Pines Golf Club located in the City of Douglasville’s Parks and Recreation Department.
• Item 24-13-25 - Adopted an ordinance to increase the salary or compensation for City elected officials, including monthly compensation of $1,075.00 for Council members and $3,300.00 for the Mayor, effective January 1, 2014.
• Item 25-13-09 - Authorized the Mayor to sign a three (3) year renewal of the Telecommunications Agreement with DoveTel Communications, LLC dba SyncGlobal, to provide Internet service to the City of Douglasville at the rate of $500 per month, for an additional 3 years.
• Item 25-13-10 - Authorized the Mayor to sign a Maintenance Services Agreement for the City of Douglasville with SPS VAR, LLC and IBM Corporation for the period of July 30, 2013 through July 29, 2014, for the maintenance of computer software and hardware in the amount of $17,995.00.
• Item 27-13-13 - Authorized the Mayor to sign deeds and other documents to transfer to the Georgia Department of Transportation the right of way and easements needed from City-owned property for the Highway 92 relocation project.
• Item 27-13-14 - Authorized the Mayor to sign a contract with Bron Cleveland & Associates, Inc., for the Lighting & Banners Phase II Project, CSTEE-0009-00(035) to redesign the scope of work to limit the work to the north end of the corridor in the amount of $42,450.00.
• Item 27-13-15 - Authorized the preparation and issuance of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to consulting firms who have demonstrated the capability to do an “Interchange Alternatives Analysis” study of the Interstate 20 - Georgia Highway 5 - Bright Star Road area, with primary funding through the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Transportation.