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Stough comments on Hammock's raise

By Michael Butler

Tallassee City Councilman David Stough recently had triple bypass heart surgery.

"It was the worst thing I've ever had in my life," Stough said. "I'm going to rehab three days a week. They tell me it takes about six months. I feel a lot better."

During his absence from his council seat a $25,000 raise was approved for the superintendent of utilities position held by mayor Johnny Hammock, a decision Stough opposes.

"(Hammock) and I talked a couple of weeks ago after Jan. 14, after they gave him the other raise," Stough said. "If you disagree with anything the mayor does - you've got a problem. The only problem that he and I have ever had is when I've disagreed about his raises."

Hammock responded, "The council has not raised the mayor's salary. You have to pass that six months before the election to take effect the next term. 

"When I came into office the council decided to raise the superintendent of utilities because it had not been raised when other city employees had received multiple raises over the years with the superintendent of utilities not being adjusted. Later in my term the council gave the employees a raise, but I did not receive one and they wanted to include me in with everyone else."

Coupled with the mayor's $25,500 salary, the total annual salary for both positions now totals $75,500.

"I never asked for any of these raises," Hammock continued. "David decided to bash me all over town about the raise. I took the high road. David has repeatedly tried to stir the pot with me and other city council members. If he had anything to say he should have voiced his opinion and moved on. 

"I don't have a problem with anyone who disagrees with me. I do have a problem with the telling of untruths that plays to the negative perception of what we the city are trying to accomplish for the betterment of the community."

Stough noted that he would not have voted to suspend the rules to vote for the proposed raise.

"I could've stopped it that night. That way it would've gone on the agenda."

Even so, Stough admitted, the pay raise would have likely passed at a future meeting with a majority of the council members in favor of the increase.

"I don't have a problem with people getting raises," he said, "but when you're elected to a job and you know what it's going to pay you know what you're going to draw. For three and a half years I've heard we don't have any money. We're in debt $14-16 million.

"I realize that he gave up according to what he said, a $100,000 a year job to take on in all reality a $25,000 a year job. It's not written in stone that the superintendent of utilities is always given to the mayor."

In an e-mail to the council, Hammock discussed the offers he had received for other jobs.


"I told them I had been turning them down, but when it got closer to election time I would need to evaluate these offers with my family to see what direction we wanted to go. 

"I suggested to the council to start working with me more so we could come up with a succession plan if I did not run again. The majority of the council decided to raise the superintendent of utilities pay that brings me into the $72,000 to $92,000 range for someone like me that does these two jobs for a city our size. In the event after I am gone this gives them more money to go out and hire someone to do that position and not automatically give it to the mayor like it has been done in the past."

Hammock said that he does intend to run for re-election to finish pending projects.