McComb’s new city administrator, Dirkland Smith, won’t be getting an immediate boost to his salary.

Smith, hired July 23, asked before his recommendation and hiring that city board members consider allowing him to decline part of the city’s insurance package and instead pay him the cost of the premiums as part of his salary.

Selectmen split 3-2, in Donovan Hill’s absence, in denying the request.

As an active Army Reserve member on a three-year commitment, Smith has military Tricare insurance coverage. He said he would decline the city’s health and dental coverage if the city agreed to pay him the premium costs, and would accept the city’s vision and life insurance options.

Asked whether the board could legally do that, board attorney Angela Cockerham said it was in the board’s discretion.

However, she warned that “what you do for one, you have to do for all.”

“So, you’re saying we would set a precedent if we do this,” Selectman Ted Tullos said.

“Yes,” Cockerham said.

Mayor Quordiniah Lockley asked that the board fit the new salary into the city’s scale, saying that might be a few dollars less than the actual premium.

He said the next step for the city administrator’s salary would be $80,404, $4,616 more than the $75,788 now paid to Kelvin Butler, who will leave the job at the end of the month.

Smith started work Monday to learn the ropes on the job with Butler.

Selectman Michael Cameron said he was concerned not only about setting a precedent, but also by whether Smith might change his mind, necessitating further action by the board to adjust his salary.

Lockley pointed out that, with Smith on a three-year commitment, the board likely wouldn’t need to revisit the salary and benefits issue until the next board term.

Selectmen Devante Johnson and Ronnie Brock moved and seconded the proposal for paying out salary rather than insurance premiums, but Shawn Williams attempted to have the matter tabled for discussion at the coming work session.

Williams’ motion died, setting up the 3-2 vote against Johnson’s motion, with Williams joining Cameron and Tullos in opposition.

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