HAHIRA -- The Hahira City Council approved a salary increase for Council members and the mayor Thursday night, although the amount was less than what was previously discussed.

It was raised to $3,600 from $1,500 for the mayor and to $2,100 from $875 for each council member.

The motion was made by Councilman Wayne Bullard, District 3, and seconded by Councilman M.C. Nelson, District 4. Councilman Joel Hunnicutt, District 2, voted against it.

"That's a comparable figure," Bullard said of why he made the motion for that exact amount. "We haven't raised it at all in 10 years."

Before the vote, Mayor Myron Crowe opened the floor for public comment, an action not usually in concordance

with Hahira City Council meetings.

One Hahira resident spoke in favor of the increase, and three spoke against it.

"Being that the economy is the way it is, I think it's more than fair to increase elected officials' salaries," said Hahira resident Karen Camion. "However, we need to keep looking at increasing the worker's wage. We need to give the citizens a voice more than once every three months."

Elvin Moore, a former Council member, said, "When I was a Councilman I made $200 a year. I never thought of that as compensation. You should be doing what you do out of service, not for the compensation. If you're doing this for the money, you're in bad shape.

"When you vote tonight, think if you could use this money for something to better our city."

Beatrice Folsom, another Hahira resident, said that she was not completely against some Council members receiving pay increases, but she wished Hahira City Council would look more closely at giving city workers insurance.

Crowe closed the public hearing after no one else approached the lectern. He stated that the elected officials' salary increase had to be done before qualifying during an election year.

"I do believe with all my heart that you do this job for service," Crowe said. "I've found out in the past year and half this is the most thankless job I've ever seen. Who would want a job with no money and no appreciation? Something has to be done to level it off.

"Why is it so wrong that Hahira stay in line with other cities our size? We're going to keep improving things for workers. I appreciate everyone's input tonight, but we need to go ahead and make some kind of motion."

In other business, City Council:

Approved amendments for the fiscal year 2003 budget

Approved a bid by Reames and Son for paving the new downtown parking lot at a cost of $3,900, which is the balance for the whole project after $5,100 is paid by the Downtown Development Authority. Mickey's Food Store and Subway will assume the $500 cost of the gates in the project.

Approved Aug. 19 as the work date for the fiscal year 2004 budget meeting at Austin's Steakhouse from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Aug. 25, there will be a called council meeting for discussion, and on Sept. 23, Council will approve the budget.

To contact reporter Jaime Peck, please call 244-3400, ext. 246.

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