HOOPER -- Hooper has reinstated salaries for city council members, but not everyone is happy about it.
Council members Annette Fielding and Rex Simpson are holding paychecks they won't cash. New council members Shawn Beus and Kyle Cooke are scratching their heads wondering what they are supposed to do.
And Councilman Richard Hull said he never wanted to go along with a council decision last June to forgo their salaries for the 2011-12 fiscal year, but did so anyway.
Mayor Korry Green says the council will receive paychecks. It's his decision alone, no discussion.
It started in June when council members signed a document stating they would forgo all pay for council duties for the entire fiscal year from July 2011 to June 30, 2012, to help balance the budget rather than take money from the city's reserve fund.
From July to January, council members did not receive any compensation, as agreed.
But this month, during a budget adjustment presentation given by City Treasurer Alan McEwan Sr., the council learned that Green had adjusted the council pay line item from zero to $6,000, which covers council pay from January to the end of the fiscal year in June.
McEwan said the city was able to make the adjustment because of a $48,300 sales tax revenue increase.
Fielding and Simpson voted no to the adjusted budget, saying they were going to honor the agreement they made last year. Even though they were given checks from the city, they have not cashed them and said they want them to go back into the general fund.
According to council members, there was no discussion at all about any of the adjustments made to the budget until they heard about it in the council meeting and during McEwan's presentation.
Since the first of the year, questions were asked in several council meetings as to why Green made this decision and where the money was coming from, as no money was budgeted for salaries.
Green's only comment was that it would be worked out. He also said the two new council members, Beus and Cooke, were not part of the no-pay agreement from last June.
Beus and Cooke say they knew about the no-pay vote even before they were elected and didn't anticipate getting paid during this fiscal year.
Fielding said she stands by her decision made last year.
"I cannot in good faith accept a paycheck when the city staff does so much for so little. They have not received an increase for the past three years due to the downturn in the economy, and besides that, with all the hefty bills coming up, the city should be as frugal as possible right now."
She added that the council checks were cut and issued before the council ever voted to accept adjusting the council pay line item.
Simpson said, "I voted no to the budget adjustments because I felt I had to honor the original agreement that we signed last year."
He added that he felt the increases in other areas were justified, but for him, not this one.
Hull says he voted yes to the budget adjustments because even though he went along with the no-pay agreement last year, he never thought it was a good idea.
Green defends his decision by saying that he had discussed putting the council pay back in the budget with the city staff when he first took over as mayor in January, but the checks were cut and given out before he discussed it in a council meeting.
From that point, he said, he decided to just go with it. He said he alone made the decision, and when asked if he discussed it with any of the council members, he said he did not, it was his decision and he never considered asking them their opinion.
Green said his feeling all along has been that this is a moral issue, and council members should be compensated for the hours they put in.
Green's salary is not paid from the council line item; his salary was included in the full-year budget.