McMinnville officials will be meeting Tuesday night to discuss a salary increase for mayor, as well as a salary decrease for aldermen to benefit the building of a skate park.
The measure will be before Finance Committee members at 6:30 p.m. Alderman Billy Wood is making the proposal.
“It was brought to my attention the city judge gets paid more than the city mayor,” said Wood. “It takes a lot of time to be mayor. The city judge currently gets $1,000 a month, while the city mayor gets $900. We haven’t adjusted the mayor’s salary in 12 years. I think we need to take a look at it.”
Who brought the situation to light? Wood denies it was current Mayor Norman Rone, who is running for re-election this year, or Alderman Jimmy Haley, who is vying for mayor.
“I want to stress that neither Norman or Jimmy asked me to consider this,” said Haley. “The city recorder brought this to my attention. Neither one had a clue I was doing this until they got their packets for the meeting.”
Wood is also asking for a decrease in salary for aldermen. Unlike the salary for the mayor, for which Wood is not making a suggestion on amount, he is recommending the salary be reduced to $1 per year for aldermen.
“That’s a savings of $28,800 a year, minus the $6 in salary,” said Wood. “I have the city’s legal counsel looking into the legality of doing that. Aldermen currently get paid $400 a month. This job is a public service. If you are doing it for the money, you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.”
Wood would like to redirect the savings to establish a skate park for local youth.
“We have children in this community who love to skate, but we have no place for them,” said Wood. “Anytime you can give children an opportunity for a safe environment in which to have fun, you need to do it. This is something we need to do. Business owners would be happy. Currently, skaters are using their parking lots.”
This is not the first time Wood has recommended a salary reduction for city aldermen in order to redirect the funds. When the city was cutting funding to nonprofit organizations years ago, he recommended their salaries be divided among those organizations.
The recommendation failed to garner much support before the board, as well as getting a negative response from the city’s legal counsel.
“Only one person was on board with me last time,” said Wood. “Also, I was also told by legal counsel that we could not work for free. This recommendation is to work for $1 a year. I have our legal counsel looking into any legal issues of that.”
This is also not the first time Wood has recommended building a skate park.
“By the estimates I’ve seen, it would only take $55,000 to $60,000 maximum to build,” he said. “We need to give up our salaries for the children. If we do this, we can finally get it done.”
The prior suggestion of building a skate park came with opposition that the city would be opening itself up to lawsuits when accidents occur. Wood says individuals using the park would be required to sign a waiver.
“Waivers are used in other communities that have skate parks,” he said. “We could use them here. If an accident were to happen, that would protect the city. We would make the skate park as safe as possible, but individuals would be skating at their own risk. They do now, but in the parking lots of local businesses.”
When it comes to salary, state law prevents changes in the middle of a term. Salary changes instituted now would not start until each new term begins.