In the north Jefferson County area, more than 70 individuals have qualified to run for mayor or council in their cities. But what do they get in return, financially?
Salaries range widely for the men and women who serve on municipal governing bodies — from $15 per quarter for Morris Town Council members to $57,000 annually for Gardendale’s mayor.
City councils can vote every four years on the salaries for the following administration.
If a council does approve salary changes for the next administration, it must be at least six months before the next group is elected. Also, city and town councils can not increase their own pay while in office.
In Fultondale, the mayor earns $33,800 a year. Jim Lowery, who has held the office for 16 years, said the job of mayor is full-time, regardless of the pay.
“Conservatively, very conservatively, I work as mayor 40 hours a week, stretched over seven days,” Lowery said. “It’s not an 8-to-5 job. I’m out at 6 every morning. A lot of the time I’m not home until 8 or 9 at night.”
Lowery said he is working even when doing recreational activities like playing golf.
“Eighty to 90 percent of my waking hours have to do with the city of Fultondale, even if I’m not at city hall,” he said. “It’s not just my job, it’s my hobby. It’s what I do.”
On the city council side, Fultondale council members’ pay increases with each term they serve in office.
In a councilor’s first term, he or she earns $200 every two weeks, or $5,200 a year. For each term thereafter, council members’ pay increases by $100 every two weeks, up to the eighth term. In the ninth term and thereafter, Fultondale City Council members earn $1,000 every two weeks, or $26,000 a year.
Mayors and council members in smaller municipalities bring home considerably less compensation for their duties.
In Trafford, the mayor receives $250 a month and council members earn $35 a month.
“It’s hard to say as far as hours,” said Trafford Mayor Robert Niblett when asked how much time he spends on mayoral duties. “I would say I devote half my time to the city. When I leave the house I’m headed to the city. When the phone rings, it’s city (business).”
Niblett said he receives calls about city matters all the time, even at night and on weekends.
Salaries for other mayors and council members in the area are:
• Morris: Mayor, $125 per quarter and council members, $15 per quarter.
• Kimberly: Mayor, $250 a month and council members, $100 a month. However, Kimberly’s mayor and council have forfeited their pay because they cut the city’s full-time employees back to 32 hours a week due to budget hardships.
• Gardendale: Mayor, $57,000 annually (full-time); mayor pro tem, $12,600 a year; council members, $12,000 a year. When the new administration takes effect on Nov. 5, under a different make-up required by law because of a population increase, the mayor pro tem position will no longer exist. Instead will be a council president, who will earn $15,000, and a president pro tem, who will make $12,600. The mayor and council members will make the same salaries they currently earn.
• Warrior: Mayor, $1,000 a month; mayor pro tem, $125 per meeting; council, $100 per meeting. Warrior has two scheduled meetings a month.
• Brookside: Mayor, $600 a month; mayor pro tem, $300 a month; council, $200 a month.
• Hayden: Mayor, $450 a month; mayor pro tem, $80 a month; council, $60 a month. In November, a salary increase kicks in for the new administration: Mayor, $750 a month; mayor pro tem, $150 a month; council, $100 a month. Also in November, each council member and the clerk will receive $20 for each specially-called meeting.