Mayor wants 20% raise in pay for self, city council members
by Rachel Gray
May 16, 2014 04:00 AM | 4160 views | 4 4 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins speaks to the guests of the ribbon-cutting event about the hard work it took to bring about the new park.
Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins speaks to the guests of the ribbon-cutting event about the hard work it took to bring about the new park.
AUSTELL — Mayor Joe Jerkins wants to give 20 percent raises to all elected officials in Austell, but a former councilwoman says Jerkins and the council members have not earned the bump in pay.

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.

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May 17, 2014
You folks in Austell have it made. You all pay almost zero taxes and still get free services such as limb and leaf collection, cheap trash service, April and October clean up. Not sure what you all are complaining about! The only reason why Causey and Standard are in no longer in office is because they were simply against the other City Council members and were trying to run every business out of town. Plus, going into peoples' back yards. They just needed to mind their own business!
May 16, 2014
This is an outrageous insult to the citizens and TAXPAYERS of Austell. If the mayor and council think they must be PAID to serve, then I suggest they step aside and let others do it who are in it for public service and not in it for the money. It takes a lot of gall to propose giving yourself a 20% pay raise when teachers, police officers, public works employees and all other public employees haven't seen legitimate pay raises in YEARS...and, when many citizens find themselves in the same boat.
Austell Taxpayer
May 16, 2014
Causey has it right. Jerkins has it wrong.
May 16, 2014
RE: “I am looking out for everybody,” said Jerkins,...

Those are the prefatory words to "bend over, it's coming"...the equivalent of "I am from the government and I am hereto help."

Watch out taxpayers. Mr. Jerkins is ready to buy votes for his re-election with your money.

A true democrat or,well...a Cobb chamber approved establishment republican, Mr. Jerkins is.

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