Process Moves forward to Raise Mayor and Council Compensation

During South Fulton’s regular meeting on July 23, South Fulton officials voted to move forward with a process to amend the city charter and raise compensation for the mayor and council.

The measure was approved by a vote of four to two. Councilwomen Carmalitha Gumbs and Naeema Gilyard voted against the amendment. Councilwoman Catherine Foster Rowell was not in attendance.

Currently, Mayor William “Bill” Edwards earns $23,000 annually, while each councilmember earns $13,000. The amendment proposes that the mayor would earn $37,676 annually and each councilmember would earn $27,676. The mayor and council would also each receive a  $364 monthly living expense stipend.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs publishes a Municipal Wage and Salary Survey report annually. Based on the 2018 report, annual compensation for councilmembers in Roswell and Sandy Springs is $18,000. The mayors of both cities earn $40,000. Both cities are estimated to be similar to South Fulton in population size, although their general fund revenues are significantly higher.

According to a financial impact statement prepared by Frank Milazi, South Fulton’s chief financial officer, the city council reviewed officials’ compensation in surrounding Georgia jurisdictions, as well as studies on recommendations for a living wage. They found their current compensation to be noncompetitive.

Adoption of the amendment is at minimum months away. In order to comply with state law, the proposed compensation increase must be advertised via public notice for three consecutive weeks. The city’s attorney said that they’ll seek to place the ad soon, and the issue will be on the city council’s agenda again on August 13 for final adoption.

The city’s upcoming elections in November put officials on a strict timeline. State law mandates that the amendment to increase compensation can not be adopted between a qualifying period and an inauguration date. The qualifying period for city council elections in Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 begins August 19.

If the charter amendment is adopted, the new compensation model would go into effect in January 2020.