Jerkins said around 70 percent of the city’s budget is dedicated to paying the salaries of city employees and elected officials.
For two years in a row, city employees, such as planning and zoning staff, have been given 5 percent raises each year, Jerkins said.
Austell’s property taxes are the lowest in Cobb, Jerkins said, but the city still provides services to residents such as a fire department independent from the county.
“I am looking out for everybody,” said Jerkins, who added he will probably run for one more term.
Austell’s six council members have not been given raises since 2000, Jerkins said, and the new amount would not go into effect until January 2016, after the next election cycle.
If approved by a majority vote at the next council meeting on June 2, the salary for an Austell council member would go from $12,000 to $14,400.
The mayor’s salary would rise from $30,000 to $36,000, making a total increase of $20,400 in salary contributions for elected officials.
In the city of Marietta, the mayor is given $18,000 per year, and the seven council members are compensated at $13,000 per year.
For 25 years, Jerkins has held not only the mayor position, but also the city manager title.
“The city didn’t have money to pay the city manager,” Jerkins said. “We can afford to give the council a little more money for that reason.”
For eight years, Councilwoman Kirsten Anderson has represented Ward 1, winning a third term in November 2013.
Anderson, who operates the hair salon Studio 5 Beauty Works on Rosehill Street, supports granting the raises.
“You want to keep competitive,” said Anderson. “You want to be able to attract good people.”
Even though the issue is being discussed this year, the raises would not go into effect until 2016. Then it would be at least another four years, after an election cycle, until another raise would be possible, Anderson said.
Trudie Causey previously held the at-large position on Austell’s City Council, but in November lost to Ollie Clemons Jr., who was endorsed by Jerkins and won with more than 70 percent of the votes.
Causey, who has lived in the city since 1988, said although she is in complete favor of giving city employees raises, she is “totally opposed” to giving more money to Jerkins and the council.
“A thousand dollars a month for an hour’s worth of time is gracious plenty,” Causey said about the mayor and council members, who she says meet twice a month for about 30 minutes each.
Causey also believes the city should hire a separate city manager.
“Our city has been stagnant too long and I think we can move forward with a new vision for the city,” she said.
Causey said the raises have not been earned because the state of Austell’s downtown has been ignored in recent years.