Because the 2010 Census showed that Jacksonville's population surpassed 12,000, the makeup of the city’s council will change, as required by state law. The mayor’s position as a voting member of the council will be replaced with a council president. That person will lead the meetings and set the agenda, among other duties. The mayor will continue as the chief executive of city government.
Oxford’s city government made the same switch in 2004, after the 2000 census showed growth there.
In many cities, the council president is chosen from the members of the newly elected council. However, Councilman Mark Jones suggested at a special council meeting Thursday night that Jacksonville go a different route and give all council members equal time as president.
“It is an interesting concept,” Mayor Johnny Smith said. “The Calhoun County Commission does a similar situation with their chairmanship.”
Council members are waiting for more information to find out if splitting the president’s role is legal before making any decisions on the matter.
One issue on which council members will soon have to reach agreement is pay.
State law requires the city to adopt a compensation policy for the new council by Feb. 28. Currently, Jacksonville council members are paid $500 per month and the mayor is paid $2,500 per month.
During the meeting, Smith suggested to the council that the pay rate stay the same, except for council president. Whoever is in that role should get $750 per month, he said, because of the extra duties. The council was given the weekend to think it over, and the issue will be brought up for an official reading at Monday’s council meeting.
“We are required to have this done by Feb. 28th,” Smith said. “Our second (and last) meeting of the month will be the 27th, so we are kind of bumping up against the deadline.”
In other business, the council went into a closed executive session with the city’s attorney to discuss what officials described as pending or threatened litigation. The council took around an hour before adjourning with no further action.
Members would not disclose what was discussed in the closed session.