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South Charleston mayor could get a pay raise

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By GEORGE HOHMANN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

South Charleston City Council has given preliminary approval to a 13.3 percent pay raise for the mayor.

The raise would increase the mayor’s annual salary from $75,000 to $85,000 on July 1, 2015. The proposal noted that the city has not increased the mayor’s salary since July 1, 2007.

“Given the ever-increasing cost of living and duties and responsibilities upon the mayor of the City of South Charleston, the mayor’s annual pay should be increased and stay ahead of the salaries of other city employees and department heads,” the proposal said.

Councilman Jeff Means, chairman of the Finance Committee, pointed out that the only elected official’s salary addressed is the mayor’s pay. He noted that the raise is for the position, not the person.

It is illegal for elected officials to vote to give themselves a pay raise during their term. South Charleston’s next municipal election will be in June 2015. Mayor Frank Mullens said he intends to run for re-election.

The pay raise won preliminary approval on a unanimous voice vote. It must be approved once more, at a future council meeting, before it becomes final.

Prior to Thursday evening’s meeting, Mullens said he stayed out of the pay raise discussions.

Also Thursday evening, council approved the first reading of an amendment to city law regarding salary schedules for firefighters, police officers and employees.

The move follows through on council’s April 4 decision to grant a 2.5 percent pay raise to most city employees, effective July 1. This proposal also must be approved once more, at a future council meeting, before it becomes final.

In other action, council:

Gave preliminary approval to rezoning the former Evans Lumber Co. property at the corner of 2nd Avenue and D Street from C-6 (Community Commercial) to C-10 (General Commercial).

Mullens said, “This is a step to get a business to come here that is actively pursuing the property.”

Agreed to close D Street from 1st Avenue to 7th Avenue for the Armed Forces Day Parade on May 17.

Heard from South Charleston lawyer Ryan White, a candidate for the Kanawha County Board of Education. A total of seven candidates are vying for three of the school board’s five seats. The nonpartisan election will be May 13, the same day as the Democrat and Republican primaries.

Listened as Mayor Mullens proclaimed April as “Fair Housing Month” in the city. The proclamation noted that this is the 46th anniversary of the National Fair Housing Law.

Following the council meeting, Mullens said he awarded a contract to install artificial turf on the Little League baseball field at Little Creek Park to ProGrass LLC of Pittsburgh, Pa.

During its April 3 meeting, council awarded the contract to FieldTurf USA Inc. for $311,627. But Mullens said that following the approval, FieldTurf said it had mistakenly measured a nearby field, which is smaller. FieldTurf wanted an additional $40,000 to install turf on the correct field, Mullens said.

“They (FieldTurf) came down a little bit but not enough,” Mullens said. The city then asked ProGrass, which had bid a total of $347,000, if it would do the job for $311,627. Mullens said ProGrass agreed to, the city awarded the contract to ProGrass, and the project is on schedule.

During a Finance Committee meeting prior to the council meeting, the committee authorized Mullens to send city representatives to an auction and to bid on property at 5023 Kentucky St. if there are no other bidders.

In the portion of the council meeting when department heads give reports and answer questions:

Sanitary Board Director Steve DeBarr said he has issued numerous housing and property code violation notices in recent weeks. Mullens said, “We’re being aggressive with junk cars. We’re cleaning up the city and being aggressive about it.”

City Manager Carlton Lee said the new Weberwood Fire Station is still expected to open by mid-May; a house on Tremont Avenue has been demolished and the lot has been backfilled; and the downstairs floor at the Little Creek Country Club is almost ready to re-open following major renovations.

Public Works Director Gerald Burgy reminded everyone that the city’s annual spring cleanup will take place next weekend on the west end and May 3 on the east end.

It was announced that there will be a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on May 1 in the council’s chambers on the city’s application to participate in the state’s home rule pilot program.

Council’s next meeting will take place immediately following the hearing.


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