A debate between aldermen at Monday's monthly meeting of the city council in Pierce City led to a rare impasse as neither side mustered enough votes to resolve the question.
Mayor Carol Hirsch announced, "I can't run again for various reasons."
The next mayor's salary would have to be set prior to the April election. At the request of one of the aldermen, Hirsch placed the matter on the agenda for consideration.
In the wake of the May 4, 2003, tornado, then-mayor Mark Peters was given a stipend of $600 a month to lead the complex recovery effort. When Peters left office, the pay was reduced to $200 a month. Hirsch, who is completing her sixth term, said she had three major projects to complete during her tenure and had now done them all.
Alderman David Jones said he believed the mayor's salary needed to be reduced. Alderman Cory Sooter agreed, pointing out that Hirsch, while serving in the 1990s, had done adequately on $2 a day or $60 a month. Sooter said the city needed to cut spending in difficult economic times and the mayor's pay was one way to do that.
Aldermen John Archer, on the other hand, pointed out that there were no obvious candidates for the mayor's job. In light of the two-page list of duties Hirsch said she had compiled, many comparable to that of a city manager, Archer said someone still had to make sure city employees did their job. Archer advocated leaving the mayor's pay at the present level.
Jones proposed changing the pay to $60 a month. The motion came to a vote and mustered a 3-2 majority, with Jones, Sooter and Allen Stockton in favor. Archer and Julie Garner opposed.
The margin of the vote was called into question as being sufficient for a contractual decision.
City Attorney Don Trotter was called, and he agreed money matters required a majority vote of the full council. With a vacant Ward Four alderman's seat, a majority of four votes out of the seven remaining council members had not been reached. Thus the vote was insufficient to pass the motion.
Sooter asked to have the question tabled until the January meeting, and the other aldermen agreed. Hirsch said aldermen can decide on the mayor's salary at any time prior to the April election, though she preferred to see the issue resolved before filings for the April 6, 2010, election closed on Jan. 19, 2010.
It was noted that aldermen could also vote to reduce the pay of city council members, but that would only apply to those elected next April. Hirsch said in the past aldermen have donated their pay back to the city, and the money has gone into the park fund.