Just days after winning re-election, Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy and other city leaders went into executive session and voted themselves raises. Big ones.
Espy’s pay got a bump of $35,999. That brings his salary to $122,421. Now he makes a few hundred dollars more than the governor. The four part-time Clarksdale city commissioners also received increases. Their pay went from $26,650 to $46,650.
Former Clarksdale Mayor and state Representative John Mayo told SuperTalk Mississippi this morning that city employees and others also received raises.
“The raise is significant. But I believe the way they did it was sneaky. The entire board got re-elected, it wasn’t even a contest. And then 6 days later at a meeting they went into executive session and that’s when they gave all the employees a raise,” Mayo explained during an interview on The Gallo Show. “The four commissioners getting that kind of raise…” he continued. “It makes them the highest paid part-time municipal elected officials in the state.”
He said what upsets people is that they did it in secret. And he questioned how a city experiencing a population decline and a declining tax base can afford it. Mayo petitioned the mayor and commissioners to rescind the raises, more than 600 people signed on. But it didn’t happen.
Now, he’s filed an inquiry with the Ethics Commission, but says he hasn’t heard back from them yet. The question is can a municipal board in executive session, not only discuss, but also raise their salaries? “In the open meetings law, the only public board mentioned that can discuss salaries in an executive session is the board of a public hospital.” He believes the Ethics Commission will eventually back that up.
The raises went into effect this month, at a total cost of over $416-thousand to Clarksdale taxpayers, according to Mayo.