No raises yet for Lumberton aldermen, mayor

By HASKEL BURNS,

Members of the Lumberton Board of Aldermen and the city’s mayor won’t receive pay raises, at least not for the time being.

Three items were on the July 3 board meeting agenda to raise the aldermens’ pay from $400 to $720 per month, the alderwoman-at-large’s salary from $500 to $770 per month and the mayor’s salary from $600 to $920 per month, but Ward 3 Alderman Jonathan Griffith said the measures died because of a lack of a second.

“I did make a motion, but everything else from there died,” he said.

Griffith said he wasn’t sure if the board would look into the matter again in the future.

“A lot of the people, in my opinion, are afraid to ask for themselves a raise,” he said. “I, on the other hand, was not afraid to ask for a raise, because I know what work I do and I know what time I put into this position.

“I’m getting calls from individuals – not only people in my ward but people outside my ward – who are constantly contacting me. So I felt that as a person who’s been doing the work, doing the research, actually going through paperwork and reading our board packets when they’re given to us, that should be compensated. If you’re giving raises across the board, make sure that everybody gets a raise.”

The board did vote to increase the salary for part-time employees, however, approving a $1-per-hour raise for part-time city workers and a 50-cent-per-hour increase for part-time police officers effective July 4. Aldermen had previously approved a $2-per-hour raise for full-time city employees back in June.

“We wanted to be equitable since the full-time employees got a $2 raise,” Griffith said. “The intention was to give all of the part-time employees a $1 raise.

“But because of the way part-time police officers are scheduled and the amount they make, it was recommended by the chief that their raise only be 50 cents, because increasing their pay by $1 would actually reduce the number of hours they can actually work. There were just some details about the number of hours they can work from the Board of Standards that prevented the part-time police officers from actually getting a $1 raise.”

The raises for employees come after health insurance for city workers was cut in March because of budget constraints. But Griffith said the workers weren’t the only ones to feel that sting, as elected officials’ insurance was cut as well.

“As a matter of fact, the insurance that we had was cut three weeks prior to a scheduled surgery that I was supposed to have,” he said. “So elected officials have given up their insurance as well, and now because I’ve opted out of insurance, I have to wait until open enrollment to enroll back into insurance for my surgery.

“They’ve had paid insurance for elected officials for the last 16 years, but because of budget constraints, we ended insurance for everyone in order to try to save some money to have a cushion to pay for these audits that were not performed by the previous administration. So that was a $60,000 hit that we didn’t expect, and we also had to deal with all the legal fees from the previous board members who had a lawsuit against Lumberton. We finally won not only the actual case, but we won the appeal as well.”