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Norcross council members defend 50% pay increase for elected officials | News

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Norcross council members defend 50% pay increase for elected officials
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NORCROSS, Ga - Norcross city council members are defending a vote to give part-time elected officials a 50 percent pay increase.

Although some full-time city employees have received one time bonuses, city officials acknowledge there hasn't been an across the board pay increase for employees in two years.

"With them being a part-time council, I couldn't understand the justification for their approach to giving themselves this raise, especially at a 50-percent rate," said Greg McFarland, who spoke out against the raise.

The city's elected officials haven't received a pay increase since 1995. Council members insist their duties have increased, especially over the past year when the population of Norcross grew by 50 percent.

"For our councilmen, it (the pay increase) is $250 a month," said council member Charlie Rehim. "We're not talking big bucks."

The pay hike will take the Mayor's salary from $6,900 a year to $10,350. Council members will see their pay go from $5,400 a year to $8,100.

Council members who voted for the increases are not guaranteed to get them. The raises will be for anyone elected or re-elected after January 2014.

The pay increase passed by a 4-1 vote. Mayor Bucky Johnson told 11Alive that despite the part-time positions, the Mayor and council put a lot of time and energy into their jobs, and have to run for re-election every two years.

Mayor Pro-Tem Andrew Hixson was the lone dissenting vote.

"I didn't think it sent the right message," Hixson told 11Alive.

McFarland, whose parents were both on the Norcross City Council and ran his own unsuccessful bid to gain a spot on the board, said he's disappointed elected officials are getting a raise while police officers are not.

"I take offense that they're not taking care of the police department," said McFarland.

Rehim says it would cost nearly half-a-million dollars to give all city employees an across the board raise, while the boost for the mayor and council will cost a fraction of that.

"It's just too much money," Rehim said of an across the board raise. "You're talking 38 people (in the police department) getting a raise of 3 percent, that's a lot of money, as opposed to $20,000 for this one.

"Revenues are starting to increase, so maybe we can do something like that in the future. Next year," said Rehim.

Mayor Johnson believes the pay hike will bring Norcross in line with other like sized towns.

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