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Bill puts Council pay hikes in reach / January 02, 2013
Del. Tommy Wright has pre-filed legislation in the Virginia House of Delegates to pave the way for possible salary increases this year for Chase City Town Council members and the mayor.

Wright’s bill, HB 1452, would eliminate a provision in the Chase City Town Charter that effectively cedes responsibility for Council and mayoral pay raises to the General Assembly. If passed, the bill will allow Town Council to establish the compensation to be paid to its members and the mayor.

Mayor Eddie Bratton stressed that salary decisions would be “more properly administered” if placed in Council’s hands. He added that the bill does not stipulate that pay levels for either Council members or the mayor should change next year. Any change in salaries would first be subject to a public vote and debate by Council.

The Charter provision fixes the yearly salary of Chase City’s mayor at $1,800 and for Council members at $200. The Charter was last amended in 1975.

Wright’s bill comes in response to a Town Council vote taken back in June 2012. At his final meeting on Council, outgoing Councilman Munsey Moore asked fellow members to approve a pay increase for themselves, taking annual Council salaries from $200 to $1,000 and mayoral pay from $1,800 to $4,000, starting in 2013.

Council unanimously endorsed Moore’s motion.

Since the Chase City Charter sets fixed salaries for both the Mayor and Council, Council could not simply vote for a pay raise. Instead, the General Assembly must amend the Charter.

When Moore first suggested the pay raise, Bratton endorsed the proposal because Chase City officials are paid less than their counterparts around Mecklenburg County.

Council members in Boydton make $25 per meeting, or generally around $300 annually, and Boydton’s mayor receives $525 per month. In Clarksville, Council members earn $40 per meeting and the mayor receives $75. In South Hill, Council members receive $300 per month and the mayor receives $600. South Hill Mayor Earl Horne also receives health insurance through the town, said Town Manager Kim Callis.

In addition to pay reform for Chase City officials, Wright’s bill proposes to remove outdated provisions related to municipal courts. Of this part of the bill, which would eliminate the ability of Chase City to operate a Mayor’s Court, Bratton said: “Our formal request only pertained to the deletion of the pay scale details. I really would not want the mayor to be considered the ‘judge’ for the town and the legal liabilities of such could be massive. So, this is the correct thing to do.”

Efforts to reach Wright for comment were unsuccessful.

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