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Town Won't Give Raise to Mayor

Council votes 8 to 1 to keep mayor's salary at current level.

Mount Pleasant's town council has for months debated whether future mayors should have larger duties and greater pay, and now the issue appears settled with a resounding "no."

The council voted 8-to-1 Tuesday to deny a proposal that would have boosted the mayor's annual pay from $24,000 to $36,000.

Councilman Elton Carrier was the lone vote for the pay increase. Councilman Chris Nickels was not present.

"This isn't a great increase, but it's enough to maybe open the field a little bit in 2013 when the position is on the ballot again," Carrier said. With the increase in pay "we might get some more people who would consider running."

The mayor's position is part-time, and though the mayor serves on many boards, and the position carries greater influence, the mayor's vote carries no larger weight than the eight council members.

The raise proposal was not favored by sitting Mayor Billy Swails who does not currently accept the salary. He's up for re-election in November 2013, and said the pay was not a factor for him. He currently donates his salary back to the town.

Councilmembers admit that mayor's position requires full-time hours, but they said the job is public service and that low pay and long hours are just part of the title.

"I don't think the (pay increase) is going to open up the field of candidates," said Councilwoman Linda Page. "To me, it's about public service. I was quite surprised when I was elected that the council position had a salary. ... I think that's necessary ... but I'm opposed to increasing the pay to just an arbitrary number."

Though Swails said he wasn't interested in extra salary, he previously proposed making the mayor's position full-time with expanded duties that diminished the role of the town council.

That proposal failed to move forward when a majority of the council indicated it would not support the measure, but it also would have carried a larger salary similar to the six-figure pay offered by Charleston and North Charleston.

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