Term Limits, Pensions Discussed at City Hall
The city has begun discussing proposals to impose term limits on elected officials and eliminate the elected officials' pension plan in the future.
The two most prominent items from Thursday's Canton City Council meeting were personnel issues regarding elected officials in the City of Canton, including the possibie imposition of term limits and the phasing out of the pension plan.
Councilman Bob Rush mentioned that the City of Woodstock has term limits for its elected officials, and suggested a two term limit for all of Canton's elected officials.
Rush had intended the proposal to impose term limits on Canton's elected officials as a supplementary poll to the bond referendum on construction of three new fire stations scheduled for next year, but was informed by Mayor Gene Hobgood that the City of Canton cannot in fact legally sponsor polls.
Rush said that whenever term limits are brought up at the state level, the motions are quickly and resoundly defeated. However, ordinary citizens he talked to were largely in favor of term limits on all elected officials.
The council also discussed the possibility of phasing out the city's pension plan for elected officials, saying that the costs were no longer justifiable. The pension was seen by many council members as a bulwark against their lower wages compared to other municipalities.
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"I think once you've served your four or eight years that you've done enough," said Hobgood. Statistics were cited that claimed former city employees on pensions make more off the plan than they ever did when they actually worked for the city.
Councilman Rush mentioned a Georgia city of roughly 1,000 residents where the city council makes roughly four times what Canton's council members do. Woodstock was again mentioned as a city that pays its elected officials well compared to Canton. A comment was made by one of the council members that the current pay does not match the amount of time and commitment each council member puts into the job.
If the measure to eliminate the pension plan were to pass, existing elected officials would be grandfathered in and continue to receive payments, but newly elected officials would not draw a city pension at all.
No votes were taken on city matters during tonight's meeting, though the feasibility study for fire service fees and the renovation of the Canton Theatre were discussed and will be up for votes at the next meeting in two weeks. Please see the attached PDF for the complete agenda from Thursday's meeting. If you would like to see a replay of the meeting, one will soon be available from the city's web site.