Mount Pleasant considered doubling mayor’s pay, upping council salaries

By Andy Owens
aowens@scbiznews.com
Published July 16, 2014

During this month’s meeting, Mount Pleasant Town Council teetered at the brink of raising the mayor’s annual salary to $50,000 — more than double the current rate — and bumping up pay for council members, but in the end neither move was approved.

Council member pay never made it to a vote, and a motion to increase the mayor’s salary failed by one vote. Mayor Linda Page was among those voting against the pay increase, saying she knew what the pay was when she ran for election.

Pay for mayor, council members

The Municipal Association of S.C. publishes an online database of self-reported salaries for elected officials. Not every municipality is represented and the results aren’t audited. Here’s what the top 15 mayors across South Carolina earn, according to the Mount Pleasant survey and data from the Municipal Association of S.C.

Rank
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.

Municipality
Charleston
North Charleston
Myrtle Beach
Union
Summerville
Goose Creek
Rock Hill
Hilton Head Island
Hollywood
Mount Pleasant
Wellford
Greenville
Florence
Columbia
Spartanburg

Mayor
$162,816
$148,905
$50,000
$48,800
$45,000
$30,000
$25,646
$25,000
$25,000
$24,000
$20,050
$19,074
$18,266
$17,500
$16,160

Council Member
$15,000
$15,965
$15,000
$8,800
$7,500
$7,200
$9,983
$12,800
$6,500
$8,918
$2,400
$11,773
$15,810
$13,350
$9,090

Source: Mount Pleasant Compensation Survey for Mayor and Council Members, data from MASC’s Municipal Compensation Survey
The issue arose after the town’s human resources committee conducted a survey of pay for elected officials in selected cities in South Carolina. Mount Pleasant was found to be among the lowest in the survey for council member pay and slightly lower than Rock Hill for mayoral compensation.

Proponents of the pay increase noted Mount Pleasant’s growing population and budget and the time it takes to stay aware of increasingly complex issues facing the town. Several council members spoke in favor of raising only the mayor’s pay because of the amount of time required for that position.

The motion to increase the mayor’s pay by more than 100% and increase the salary for Mount Pleasant Town Council members by 68% to $15,000 would not have been implemented until after an election of at least two council members, per state law.

The debate also brought about a lengthy discussion about the type of government that would be most effective in the growing town and whether the mayor’s position should continue to be part time or be made a full-time job.

Mount Pleasant has a weak-mayor form of government, also known as a council government. In municipalities with a strong-mayor form of government (mayor-council), such as Charleston and North Charleston, the mayor runs day-to-day operations. In a weak-mayor government, an administrator and staff typically run day-to-day operations and the mayor is another member of the city council who presides over meetings and has other duties.

A formal motion to send questions to a committee for recommendations about Mount Pleasant’s form of government and a full-time mayor also failed.

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