Council should table retirement benefits discussion until new council takes office

Published 6:10 pm Friday, December 1, 2017

The LaGrange City Council is considering increasing retirement benefits for city council members.

The timing of this discussion is concerning, as two of the city council members involved in this discussion would be voting for near-immediate personal financial benefit.

The council should table the matter for now and address when a new council is sworn and seated.

Councilwoman Norma Tucker, who has served on the council for 12 years, raised the issue during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The council voted 4-2 in favor of creating an ordinance that will allow it to address the issue.

That ordinance will need to be approved by the Georgia Municipal Association.

Once complete, the council may vote to either increase retirement benefits from $25 per month to $50 per month, or to take no action.

Benefits are paid to former council members, 65 and older, and are multiplied by years served on the council.

Tucker, who has served on the council for 12 years, could see her pay increase from $3,600 to $7,200 per year.

Tucker and Nick Woodson were participating in one of their final council meetings as council members.

Both chose not to run for re-election, thus will serve on the council for one more month before retiring.

No one is questioning the integrity of Tucker or Woodson.

Perhaps an increase in benefits should be considered.

In Tucker’s 12 years on the council, there has been no change in the benefits or pay for council members.

City Manager Meg Kelsey said the average retirement benefit is $38 in communities of similar size.

At issue is when to take up the question and who should do so.

We believe the city council should table this vote, revisiting once the new council has been sworn in, and at that time should seek public input.

Doing so allows a full council vote by none who would immediately benefit.