Though the majority of the board of mayor and aldermen has decided to proceed with giving a raise to the next mayor, there are two who aren’t on board.

One is the current mayor, the other is the only person who’s announced he plans to run for mayor. 

“We’ve been discussing the raise for the upcoming mayor and I still have a problem with us raising that amount by $10,000,” said alderman John Edwards during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. 

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When budget talks began in March most of the aldermen agreed the mayor’s salary should be increased from $75,000 to $85,000 to accommodate a higher cost of living. The salary was last increased eight years ago. 

The mayor also makes less than some of the employees he supervises. 

Raises for other municipal employees are given nearly each year. Covington’s department heads earn between $71,000 to $90,000 annually. 

When mayor Justin Hanson presented the budget in May, the aldermen found the raise was not included. They decided to ask the department heads to help them find money in their budgets to help fund the increase. 

Raises for municipal mayors can be passed during an election year. Hanson’s second term ends in November and he announced in early June he will not be seeking re-election. 

Though potential candidates can not pull their nominating petitions until Monday, June 20, Edwards announced months ago he will run for mayor again this year. 

He remains the only alderman who has repeatedly spoken out against the raise. There’s a better use for the money, he said. 

“I was just thinking about it and we could actually use that $10,000 to buy four additional surveillance cameras over the next four years. We could have 16 surveillance cameras in our community to help our police department better fight crime.” 

His motion to use the raise for public safety investments failed after no one seconded it. 

The budget reading, which included $6,700 from the street light budget to fund the raise, passed. Edwards voted against it. 

In a Facebook post Wednesday he said, “It’s disappointing to hear about our citizens taking up offerings to buy these cameras to make our neighborhoods safe while we’re giving raises to a mayor on his first day in office. The raise could be going to be but I still believe that’s wrong.”

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.

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