Despite presenting a lean 2014 budget, Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said Tuesday at a City Council Administration Committee meeting that her assistant should receive a $15,000 pay increase.

Despite presenting a lean 2014 budget, Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said Tuesday at a City Council Administration Committee meeting that her assistant should receive a $15,000 pay increase.


The committee voted in a Nov. 14 meeting to recommend the salary increase and job description update to the full council for consideration.


"This should not be looked at as a pay raise so much as the adjustment of a salary to reflect what is really an entirely different position than the one described in the most recent job description from 2006," Hollingsworth said of the mayor’s office position, currently occupied by Evelyn Horton. "It is extremely important to understand that this is an actual assistant, not a secretary. We are also changing the job title to assistant to the mayor from administrative assistant to the mayor."


Committee Chairman Ward 4 Alderman George Stepps said that while he agreed that a higher salary was appropriate given the expanded scope of the position, he questioned whether an increase of $15,000 from the current $33,000 up to $48,000 per year might be too much.


"If you don’t think we are going to catch hell for giving her a $15,000 raise," Stepps said. "We are going to catch some flak for giving a person who has been in the position for less than a year that kind of raise."


Stepps said that despite the logic of granting a pay increase for the position, most people will focus on the amount of money involved.


"Other people in city government will say that their job has more responsibilities than it used to and will ask why they can’t get a raise too," Stepps said.


City Human Resources Director Vickie Conaway said that she had researched salary levels for similar positions in other Arkansas cities in order to arrive at the $15,000 figure.


"It’s really hard to come up with an accurate figure that way because the size of city budgets varies so much," Ward 2 Alderman Wayne Easterly said. "The $15,000 figure is not fixed; it is a proposal. The number will not become final until it goes through the ways and means committee and is then voted on as part of the 2014 budget by the city council."


Hollingsworth said that the work done by Horton includes a number of tasks not included in the 2006 job description, such as conducting research and resolving problems in conjunction with city executives and department heads as requested by the mayor and researching and preparing the mayor for meetings, public appearances, events and any other activities related to the mayor’s role.


"The position began to expand in scope when Ted Davis occupied it during Mayor [Carl] Redus’ time here," Hollingsworth said. "So what we are trying to do now is formally update the position responsibilities in writing and bring the salary in line with those responsibilities."