Sparta changes pay policy after Open Records Request finds errors

An Open Records Request we had filed along with other Sparta tax payers prompted a change in the City's compensation policy. Eric Mock/WGXA

SPARTA, GA--The Sparta City Council voted Monday to give themselves a raise.

They’re being very clear about doing it according to the letter of the law after city attorney John Hitchcock said that during his research into the current compensation policy for mayor and council, he found that it had not met the requirements of Georgia law.

“So I looked in the previous three issues of the Ishmaelite [Sparta's weekly newspaper] online at the library and did not see where it had been published, so my conclusion was that it had not been done properly,” Hitchcock said.

According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 36-35-4, in order to adopt a new compensation policy for city leaders, the council has to advertise the change once a week for three weeks before they take a vote. And the policy can’t go into effect until after the next regular election, which, for Sparta, won’t be until November of this year.

According to Hitchcock, the council had already voted to give themselves a raise in April of 1997, but at that time they didn’t time meet the requirements outlined in the Georgia Code.

After WGXA asked him why he researched the city’s current pay policy, Hitchcock said it was because of an Open Records Request we and others had filed about the policy.

City Councilman Tom Roberts confirmed this.

“Upon discovering that, it was brought to our attention and our city attorney investigated it and that’s what he found,” Roberts said.

WGXA then asked if our Open Records Request prompted the redoing of the City's compensation policy.

“It was, all of that was compiled together and everybody helped to bring to light what happened and we wanted to correct it," Roberts said.

Now, the council has approved a new pay policy as follows:

  • The mayor will receive $1,000 a month for regular salary, $60 for each official meeting he or she attends and $200 a month for using a personal cell phone and vehicle for city duties.
  • Council members will now receive $150 a month for salary and $150 for every other official city meeting they attend.

The current policy that was adopted improperly in 1997 had the mayor getting $500 a month for salary and $200 for the use of his personal phone and car.

Under that same policy, Council members were receiving $100 dollars a month.

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