As Huntsville City Councilman Scott Thomas pointed out in last week’s Wage and Salary Commission meeting, Madison County is the fastest growing county in the state.
And as we pointed out in this space last week, that leaves our city and county in transition.
That can be controversial.
Recently, someone suggested on social media that Madison County should seek to be more welcoming and supporting of diversity during this transition. That divisive discussion turned into the pros and cons of growth.
As much as people who are against growth want the county to stay the same, the momentum clearly favors those recognizing growth as an opportunity.
In line with that reasoning, the commission – made up of four Huntsville City Council members – voted to recommend making the mayor’s position full time. See our story on Page 1A.
The way we see it, not much will change with that other than a salary increase. Already, Mayor Travis Dotson, who took office in January, is working full-time hours and is paid $30,000.
“He burns the midnight oil and takes calls on nights and weekends,” said commission chair Guy Roden.
Seemingly the only real change will be the addition of $20,000 to the mayor’s salary. For the work that goes into the city – which is in need of a full-time mayor – we endorse that move.
Comparing salaries to those in surrounding areas, commission members somewhat split the difference of $49,000 and $52,000, to arrive at $50,000 for the city’s first full-time mayor.
The county has a full-time county judge overseeing its activities.
Why shouldn’t the citizens of Huntsville have a full-time mayor?
The city has full-time firefighters, full-time police officers, and a full-time city clerk/finance director.
The city is considering taking up the slack left by Madison County Sheriff Ronnie Boyd – who unexpectedly and without notice canceled his department’s contract with the Huntsville School District to provide school resource officers – by hiring two additional full-time police officers to fill the vacant SRO positions.
The city is growing. Housing is in short supply no matter how fast builders work.
Northwest Arkansas is poised for continued exponential growth and the city should be poised to take advantage of that by way of recruiting more businesses, including developing more of the 412 bypass. That’s hard to do with a part-time mayor.
We remember one city council meeting that the former part-time mayor bragged about it lasting less than 10 minutes.
Really? That shows either a lack of transparency or forethought in planning for the future. Huntsville deserves more time and planning to keep up with the area’s growth.
The commission’s discussion included kudos to Dotson for the hours he is already putting in to do the job, but it was methodical in determining whether the job should be full time and what should that salary be.
Roden said opening the discussion, “Just because of where we’re at as a city, I think this needs to seriously be considered a full-time mayor’s job.”
And according to City Clerk and Financial Director Katie Boyd, the city, is “sitting in a good position,” financially.
We hope the city council takes the recommendation on July 10 and makes the mayor’s position full time.
The old adage goes, “Sometimes, you get what you pay for.”
Huntsville deserves a full-time mayor.
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