Mayor explains overpayment error

Mayor David Amrhein said a discrepancy between an old city ordinance and the revised home-rule charter approved in 2010 has caused him to be overpaid by $3,200.

The mayor said the ordinance specified that he and the police chief would be eligible for a 2 percent raise plus half of the Consumer Price Index inflation percentage each year, but the home-rule charter later capped their annual raises at the CPI percentage.

Amrhein said Wednesday that because the prior administration did not bring the home-rule charter provision to the payroll clerk’s attention, he was overpaid.

The mayor told the City Council Tuesday night that because he has already paid income taxes on the overpayment, he will repay the funds through payroll deductions through the end of this year.

The error was discovered because the mayor decided to forgo his annual pay raise for 2013, and the council voted unanimously Jan. 8 to freeze Amrhein’s salary at his request.

Although Police Chief David McDavid’s pay also was calculated incorrectly, McDavid was not overcompensated because he and former Police Chief David Courtney were not brought up to the correct salary when they took office, the mayor said.

Amrhein said the city owes McDavid and Courtney about $400 each because of the errors.

A 1987 ordinance says the council members also are eligible to receive a 2 percent raise every year plus half of any CPI increase in the cost of living, but the raises cannot exceed 6 percent per year.

The city charter, however, said only that the council salaries are to be set by law, leaving the current ordinance in effect.

Councilman Tommy Womack said Tuesday the council members did not want to accept a raise because city employees did not receive a raise this fiscal year.

City Attorney John Hopewell said council members cannot change the way they are paid because the charter states that any compensation on which they vote would not apply to them, only to members elected in the next election.

Regardless, council members and the mayor agreed to draft an ordinance to change the compensation rules to
simply state that raises for council members should be limited to CPI inflation numbers. Hopewell agreed to make such a recommendation during the next council meeting.

Hopewell also told council members they may not waive their pay raises for 2013 because of the language in the 1987 law.

Other business included:

MAYOR PRO TEMPORE: The council voted unanimously to appoint Councilman John Coghlan as mayor pro tempore for 2013.