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Hammock gets raise

By Michael Butler

Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock is not only the mayor. He also serves as superintendent of utilities for the city. On Tuesday night, he received a $25,000 bump in pay for his utilities position.

The annual pay for the mayor's position is $25,500. The utilities was $25,000. With the additional $25,000, the salary is now $75,500 for both.

"It is a large increase," councilman and finance committee chairman Bill Godwin said, "but just like going up on the rates for utilities, the rates have not gone up except twice in 20 years. We've had to increase the rates but it's out of necessity. It's paying off. We're seeing results.

"The salary range for the mayor and superintendent of utilities is so below other cities, it's laughable. The main reason is because of the responsibility that the mayor and superintendent of utilities has and the results. If people understand what has been accomplished, it amazes me."

Godwin added that in the past the two jobs of mayor and superintendent of utilities have been combined just to help with the overall salary.

"You in fact have not had a true superintendent of utilities. Now we do. Johnny understands the process. Since he's been in office, he's received his certificate in planning and zoning and in leadership and economic development. He's a certified official with the Alabama League of Municipalities. He's got his certification in gas/pipeline safety. None of these are easy. He's working on his certification for water and waste management (and) grant writing. He's a graduate of the Leadership Elmore County. He's been selected as one of five mayors in the state to participate in the Alabama Mayors Design Summit."

The motion passed unanimously by the five council members present. Councilmen David Stough and Darrell Wilson were not in attendance, nor was the mayor, each due to medical reasons.

"I'm recovering from surgery working from home. I did not ask for it, but I will not turn it down either," Hammock said of the pay upgrade, which will take effect during the next payment cycle. "I want to thank the council. It really means a lot to me. I know there will be negative talk around town about this matter. I am never one to talk about accomplishments.  I like to be a workhorse and not a show horse."

Hammock has made it part of his platform to improve on the city's debt service with the utitilities department. Currently the city loses more than $600,000 a year, with water and sewer service being the biggest black holes.

"I work around 60 hours or more every week. A study was done by the Alabama League of Municipalities in 2018 that states a mayor/superintendent of utilities for a city our size pays 72,000 to 92,000 a year.  With the raise I got, that will be a total of 75,500. That breaks down to 19.00 an hour for the amount of hours I work. I think this is a way for the council to say they appreciate what I am doing for the city and want me to stick around for a while."