Winder mayor, council butt heads on city administrator salary

WINDER -- One of the items on Winder's Tuesday City Council meeting agenda was labeled "City Administrator's Salary." Councilman Bob Dixon requested that the item be included in the August meeting.

When the item was called for consideration with a salary range with a low end of about $87,000 and a high end of about $132,000, Dixon cried "foul." He apparently wanted the agenda item listed and considered without a salary range being specified ahead of time.

Mayor Chip Thompson countered with the fact that the salary range came straight from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. The mayor also expressed his opinion that a quality candidate for the city administrator job would be attracted by a competitive salary.

Dixon and others on the council disagreed. Councilman Sonny Morris questioned the wisdom of setting the salary range so high. "We're going to finish on the red this year," he said. "Can we afford this?"

Dixon said that in this economy, and with so many professionals unemployed, a well qualified candidate could be nabbed for much less -- 25 to 30 percent less, Morris suggested.

In the end, councilmen voted 3-3 with regard to specifying $87,000 to $132,000 range. Thompson broke the tie, and the measure was approved with the range recommended by the Carl Vinson Institute.

Additionally, a $256,500 engineering contract with Keck & Wood Inc., which would move along a $4.9 million federal loan application and public works project, was denied Tuesday evening by the City Council.

Mayor Chip Thompson has pushed for pursuit of the loan, but council members have resisted borrowing the money, citing a need to strengthen the city's financial position instead of going further into debt.