At least one Lumberton alderman accepts pay raise

By HASKEL BURNS,

At least one member of the Lumberton Board of Aldermen has made the decision to accept the pay raise that was proposed in early October.

Ward 3 Alderman Jonathan Griffith said he willingly accepted the proposed $320-per-month raise across the board, which would bring board members’ salaries to $720 a month and Mayor Quincy Rogers’ salary to $920 a month. The board had addressed the raises at a previous meeting, with the stipulation that each member had the choice of either accepting the increase or donating it back to the city.

“I have always made no qualms that I was going to accept my raise, because I know what I do and work,” Griffith said. “I know what work I put in, and I know (our previous salary) was not an acceptable amount. For those that say we’re here to make money, well, we’re still not making money.

“We’re sitting here to make sure that everyone is paid and make sure the budget is balanced … but then (residents) feel like we should be doing this without getting any type of compensation. My phone constantly rings, and I’m constantly getting texts from people that don’t even live in my ward, so I always felt that I deserved a raise.”

Griffith said he is unaware which other board members may have rejected or accepted the raise. Rogers, along with Ward 2 Alderwoman Susan Crittenden, did not return calls for comment on the matter.

“I still don’t know – I believe it was turned in to the city clerk as to who accepted or didn’t,” Griffith said. “I would love to see who accepted or did not accept, but I just haven’t requested that information yet.

“I’m interested to see if the mayor would accept the raise, since he was so adamant that he didn’t want the raise. I was the one that put it on the agenda originally. Those who were opposed to it and didn’t want a raise, I don’t understand why they’re not forthcoming about why they didn’t want it.”

City Clerk Merlene Wall said Monday that she was working on the PineBelt NEWS’ request to disclose which other board members accepted the raise.

At the October board meeting, Lumberton resident Sandy Kee said she did not agree with the idea of the board and mayor taking a pay increase.

“The only thing the board agreed upon was their own increase – that’s the bottom line,” Kee told board members. “The only job that the employees of this city have is their day-to-day, but mayor and aldermen, that’s your secondary job.

“There is a difference. You took this job to help Lumberton, not for monetary reasons. Alderman is not your livelihood, but for these people that work for the city of Lumberton, that is their livelihood.”

Rogers said during the meeting that he did not know whether he would accept the raise, but Alderwoman-at-Large Tina Speights voiced her opinion that the board members did deserve the pay increase.

“The employees have already got their raise – they got their raise long before we did,” Speights said. “Every day, our phones ring with some citizen with a concern or asking a question, and we handle it.

“You don’t see what we do – you don’t see how many hours we sit at home and read documents so we can try to make the best decisions for the city. You don’t see what goes on behind the scenes.”