Proposal would increase water board members’ monthly pay

Published 11:06 pm Saturday, September 26, 2015

A proposal would give members of the Selma Water and Sewer Board a raise.

After being discussed in the Selma City Council meeting, the topic was handed down to the Administrative Committee for further discussion.

“The state legislature has it set in stone that the maximum amount the board members can make is $400,” said Rod West, a member of the Selma Water and Sewer Board, during the committee’s Thursday meeting.

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“If it was not set in stone by the legislature, then I would not be here because to me I’m doing more reading and more work being on the water board than when I was a high school teacher. It’s a lot of work.”

West’s reasoning for a raise from $200 to $400 for board members and from $300 to $500 for the chairman of the board was met with several questions.

“How do you justify giving the board members a raise when the employees haven’t had a raise,” asked councilman Cecil Williamson. “Do you think we should wait and see if y’all give them a raise before we give y’all a raise?”

West responded with a “no” and added that the board has spent more hours meeting this year than in past years.

“The whole time we’ve been going through this new meter process thing we’ve been meeting extra times, sometimes two or three times a month,” West said.

“We meet every month. We average about three to four hours every time we meet, but this past year we’ve met on several different occasions two or three times a month.”

Williamson pointed out that at the board’s current salary, members are paid $50 an hour, and if a raise is given, members will make $100 an hour.

Williamson also argued that water rates will go up 2.5 percent every year due to the board refinancing a bond issuance that was done to make upgrades to the city’s water system.

Robert Allen, chairman of the board, did not attend the meeting, but he argued Friday that the upgrades and yearly increase were necessary to provide clean water.

“The system that we have needs to be upgraded, the whole system. You live in pay me now, pay me later, and as long as you hold off the more it is going to cost you,” Allen said.

“If you don’t, the next group that comes in [is] going to have some issues. The only way that you can pay for such upgrades is that you have to issue bonds or borrow money one way or another. The only way that you have revenue to do that is from the citizens.”

Allen said the yearly increase would not equal out to much in the long run, but Williamson said gave an example during the meeting that someone paying $25 now would end up paying $50 or more at the end of the bond issuance.

“We are very compassionate about the citizens, but like I say, if you look at the course of over 30 years it is going to be less than $500 that I’m going to pay out over 30 years,” Allen said. “I’ll take that any day.”

A motion was eventually made in the meeting to vote on recommending giving the board a raise to the council.

The motion failed, and Williamson said he would report the committee’s actions to the council.

Williamson said it would be left at the hands of the council to decide to vote on the raises or not.