By Ray King

A majority of the members of the McGehee City Council have rejected a bid to increase their monthly salaries and voted to provide a stipend to city employees not affected by the minimum wage hike.

According to the McGehee Dermott Times-News, a motion to increase the monthly salary for council members from $300 to $400 was voted down 4-2, with council members Leroy Hood and Margaret Hood favoring the raise and council members Helen Wesson, Steve Montgomery, Mike Rogers and Al Murphy voting no.

Mayor Jeff Owyoung told the council that after a review of the 2021 budget and anticipated revenue, it would not be financially feasible to approve an overall wage increase for city employees. He said that because the federal minimum wage goes from $10 to $11 per hour in January, the city is already adjusting for higher salary expenses.

He said that while the city is currently not able to give raises to employees not affected by the minimum wage increase, he was recommending a one-time stipend of $1,000 for those 29 employees. That recommendation was approved.

Retiring council members Margaret Hood and Mike Rogers were recognized for their service. Hood served on the council for 18 years and Rogers 34 years. A plaque was presented to Jerry “Monk” Hankins who is retiring after 40 years with the McGehee Street Department.