WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - It wasn't what Waveland's new mayor and board of aldermen expected when they opened their meeting to public comments a week after giving themselves pay raises. Surprisingly, the crowd Wednesday night offered more praise than protests over the pay hike the board approved just days after taking office.
Waveland leaders braced themselves for a backlash for the generous pay raises they gave themselves. But most of the comments inside the meeting were very different from people on the street WLOX News spoke with just a week ago.
"You guys are not getting a lot of money. As far as I'm concerned, you deserve more than you got," said Waveland resident George McCann.
"There are 2,080 hours in a year. If we divide your salary and get dollars per hour, we come to about $34 an hour; $34 to run our business. Mr. Mayor, your salary isn't enough," Waveland resident John Sosville said.
Mayor David Garcia's salary increased $12,000 a year from $60,000 to $72,000. The aldermen each received a $1,200 boost. Those numbers didn't bother Brenda McComb.
"I know David Garcia is not a man to work 40 hours a week. I know he's a man that's going to work minimum 60 hours a week, possibly even 70 hours a week," McComb said. "You did not give yourself enough of a raise. Councilmen, you short changed yourself."
But the people at the meeting opposed to the raises and frustrated over recent city budget cuts also had their say.
"I have many friends and acquaintances that work throughout this city, and I know firsthand how it feels to be unemployed in this economy, and would hate for any of them to experience that knowing the leaders gave themselves a raise," Mikelle Williamson said.
One man seemed okay with paying the mayor more, but not the aldermen elected to part-time posts.
"You knew what you were getting into. Nobody twisted your arm to run for this office," John Empson said. "You can turn this around if you want to and we certainly, we would urge the aldermen to take a look at this."
The board listened to the citizens and moved on to other business. The mayor told WLOX News the raises are not up for reconsideration, but he wanted to give citizens a chance to voice their concerns face to face.