A Summit official is questioning how the town clerk briefly received a pay raise against the wishes of the town council following a tense meeting Tuesday over generous pay increases that were meant to exclude department heads.

Councilwoman Pauline Monley said Thursday that Town Clerk Deborah Price received a paycheck earlier this month that reflected the same 10% increase that most all other town employees were supposed to receive.

Price said in Tuesday’s town council meeting, which was peppered with heated exchanges between herself and Monley, that Mayor Percy Robinson, who had advocated for Price to receive a raise, directed her to put the money in the budget but not to take it out. The mayor said Wednesday that he did not tell her to do that.

“I absolutely wasn’t told to take that out, I don’t disobey what I was told to do and I would never take a dime that was not allocated to me,” Price said Friday. “It all seems prejudicial to me.”

Price and CPA Hal Holloway said they mentioned the appropriation during a budget meeting in September, but council members, who voted for the budget not realizing the money for Price’s pay raise was included, said that ran counter to their wishes.

“We told Ms. Price, we told her no head of the department is getting a raise and she took it upon herself to do it anyway without the board members knowing it,” Monley said.

Monley said the mayor told her that he told Price to take the money out of the budget “and she did not do it.”

“She went in there and she still gave her self a $7,200-something increase,” Monley said.

Monley said she learned about Price’s pay raise on Tuesday morning, when she requested before-and-after pay comparisons for town employees and flagged the raise as misspent money.

Monley had initially proposed 30% pay raises for all employees except department heads, but when it came time to write the budget, that figure was scaled back to 10%. She said council members told department heads they’d review the budget and decide on raises for Town Superintendent Tim Baylor, Police Chief Kenny Cotton and Price later.

According to job search website Indeed.com, the average pay raise workers received in 2020 was 3%.

Price said her exclusion was insulting, noting that she had taken over the town clerk’s job when the town was left in a lurch following the retirement of the former town clerk, and she learned to do the job with little training and no raise from her former deputy clerk’s salary. With the raises for other town employees, she said deputy clerks with less seniority and responsibility would be making more money than her.

But Monley, who was first elected three years ago, said Price has received previous raises, but Price said she hasn’t received one since becoming town clerk.

Monley on Thursday walked back her criticism of Price’s job performance, but said the highly charged dialogue between her and Price at Tuesday’s board meeting did not sit well.

“She does a good job but you have to mind your personality as well,” Monley said. “It’s not that I dislike her. I just want you to do your job and what you have to do for the people in the Town of Summit.”

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