Council Member Bob Rush introduced the idea of cutting pensions for council members and increasing their salaries.
Rush had placed discussion of a non-binding referendum to allow city voters to speak their mind on the issue on Thursday night’s agenda.
However, the city attorney had advised that taxpayer money could not be used for such an election.
Rush suggested that council salaries, now $2,100 per year, should be increased to $8,000 per year. He suggested raising the mayor’s $3,000 annual salary to $10,000.
Under Rush’s proposal, pensions would end with those council members in office now, who would not receive pensions at the end of their terms.
Those former mayors and council members now receiving pensions would not be affected unless they took office again.
Mayor Gene Hobgood said the city could save $60,000 or more annually by ending pensions payments for city council members in future.
Others on the council agreed.
“I certainly agree that we need to do away with pensions. We need to be paid a reasonable amount of money, but it needs to stop when the term stops,” Council Member Bill Bryan said.
Rush also brought up introducing term limits for the city council and mayor, limiting each to two terms.
“I’ve talked to people in town, and they like the idea of term limits,” he said.
Hobgood said Friday it was his understanding that term limits would have to be introduced by the state legislators and passed at the state level as local legislation.
The mayor said he does support the term limits.
Discussions on the matters will continue at the council’s next meeting.
A proposal to increase the pay for city council members, who have not had a raise in 19 years, was eyed in 2009. The proposal at that time would have raised annual salaries from the present level to $15,000 for council members and $21,600 for the mayor.
That plan did not make it to a vote, but was dropped because it was so close to election time for council seats and under state law some officials said that pay raises cannot be decided between qualifying and a city election.