published Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Chattanooga, Hamilton County leaders get raise

by Cliff Hightower
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger is seen in this file photo.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger is seen in this file photo.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Office // Old salary // New salary

City, county mayors // $146,607 // $151,006

Commission chair // $27,100 // $27,913

Council chair // $26,991 // $27,651

Council vice chair // $24,491 // $25,151

Commission vice chair // $23,921 // $24,639

City Council member //$21,991 // $22,651

County commissioner // $20,745 // $21,368

Source: Chattanooga, Hamilton County

The city and county mayors will have an extra $4,400 to tuck in their wallets this year.

The Hamilton County Commission approved a 3 percent pay raise for all employees. That includes the county mayor, and pay for commissioners, City Council members and Chattanooga's mayor all are linked to his salary.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger put the raises in the county budget this year. He said he thought the offices needed additional money as much as other county employees.

"I did think about it on the front end, but it's not about Jim Coppinger," he said. "It's about the office of mayor."

The last pay increase for the mayors, commissioners and council members was in 2007. Chattanooga's charter states that the city mayor's salary must match the county mayor's, and that part-time council members' pay is 15 percent of the mayor's salary.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd doesn't favor the increase.

"If I had my druthers, I'd rather we didn't get it," she said.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the office has "no control" over the salaries.

"It's all tied to the county's mayor," he said.

Commission Chairman Larry Henry said Friday that when there is a pay increase for county workers it almost always has included the mayor and the commission. He said it would be out of the ordinary for the mayor to consider taking himself and the commission out of the budget.

"There was no dissent from the commission," he said. "In the past, it's always been precedent."

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