MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) The mayor of Mobile could have a larger paycheck if one city councilman gets his way. Councilman John Williams stopped by Local 15 News Friday morning to talk about his plans.
Williams says he will introduce an item on next week's council agenda to raise the mayor's pay to $200,000. Williams said the mayor is grossly underpaid, making roughly $89,000 plus benefits and expenses a year.
The move has surprised many people, even some of Williams' most staunch supporters. Remember, Williams is one of the most fiscally outspoken members of the Mobile City Council, and votes no on scores of expenditures he believes are non essential to city operations.
So why in the world is he making a play to actually raise the mayor's salary, even more than double it?
That's one of many questions Local 15's Darwin Singleton asked Williams when they sat down for a conversation.
"Simply ask yourself the question, is it adequately compensated right now? I think the answer is no. Then you take it to the next step and say, this isn't about now, the law says it's not about now," Williams said. "The current mayor will not get a raise. The next mayor, which may be the say guy, is the position holder that we're talking about, that will receive this compensation. Who do we want that person to be for the next four, eight, 12, 16 years? What do we want that position to be? And what are we willing to pay for it? "it is a hot political potato. Nobody wants to talk about it, ever."
Darwin: "Are you going to run for mayor?"
Williams: "I am not going to run. You can take that to the bank. I am not going to run for mayor of Mobile."
"And everyone's saying, it's a 125 percent raise," he exclaimed. "Well, you're saying, by that statement, that it was okay to start with. And I say, it's been inadequate for some time."
Some of his supporters took to social media to blast the proposal, and publicly wonder, why?
"If it's personal, it's personal, and I'll take it up with the person," he responded. "But it is the position. We demand it to be an industry recruiter, to be an economic developer and be an administrator and provider of services."
Williams pointed to projects like Airbus and Carnival Cruise Lines, to a city supplying the needs of about 200,000 people.
Is $89,000 too little for the mayor of a city like Mobile? A spot check of similar southern cities revealed this:
The mayor of Montgomery can only be paid up to $95,000.
The mayor's salary in Huntsville: more than $132,000.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: more than $150,000.
Lexington, Kentucky: more than $120,000.
Williams stressed it's not about current Mayor Sam Jones or the man who might follow him, it's about the position and the value Mobile put on the office.
Since the idea of a raise surfaced Thursday, many have speculated on Williams' motives.
A swipe at Mayor Jones?
A favor for a candidate?
Maybe Williams is ready to run himself?
Defiantly not, he says.
"I'm not necessarily saying Sam Jones ought to get $200,000," said the council member. "I'm just saying the position is inadequately compensated. And we ought to reevaluate it from zero. And if we're only willing to pay $79,000, let's accept a little less of that position and be realistic."
Fellow council member Bess Rich already told Williams she would reject the idea. Reggie Copeland and William Carroll both said no. So did J.C. Small and Gina Gregory. Fred Richardson said he'd support it only if it is accompanied by an amendment that ties raises for council and mayor to raises for city employees.
The proposal goes before the entire city council next Tuesday.