September 12, 2006
One Augusta commissioner has already taken a pay cut to help fix the city's budget. Now the mayor says he'll do his part.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver plans to cut $30,000 from his own budget.
That means aside from the mayor's annual salary, most of the other perks will go...and Copenhaver says it's the right thing to do.
"In tight budget times, we need to all tighten our belts, and I can do without these things this year," he said.
Copenhaver sent a letter to city administrator Fred Russell asking him to reduce the mayor's budget by over $30,000.
"As we're asking our departments to cut funds, I can't ask somebody to do something I'm not willing to do myself."
The mayor is giving up around $11,000 for memberships like the National Conference of Mayors; about $1500 for gas; another $120 from his phone budget; and $10,000 in discretionary funds.
Also coming out of the mayor's budget is a car. Former mayor Bob Young used to drive a Crown Victoria around town. Deke says he'll do without.
Since commissioner Joe Bowles got mixed reactions when he recently announced plans to cut part of his salary, we asked the mayor if his move is political or truly sacrificial.
"This is not about re-election," Copenhaver said. "This is about who I am as a person and the way I do business."
The mayor says he doesn't plan to give up all of these things indefinitely, just until the city's budget is back under control.
The mayor has also cut a lot of his travel.
He recently went to New Jersey on city business and paid for it himself. He says he doesn't know if he'll do that every time, but he will at least for now.
Next Monday on News 12 at 11 O'Clock, we'll have a special assignment looking closely at the perks in the commission's budget--who's using them, who's not, and how much could be saved.