Kirk Thompson, with the 15th highest salary at $65,000, serves as executive advisor to the mayor. As such, Thompson advises the mayor on a variety of issues, assists in departmental functions, and plays a major role in helping the administration formulate policy and encourage economic and cultural development. Thompson helps the mayor keep up with what is going on both within city government and in other parts of the community, such as community organizations and schools.
Barry said Thompson works 12 to 14 hours a day, including Saturdays and Sundays, and that "his desire to see Meridian grow is amazing."
Thompson is currently considered a temporary employee because his position has not yet been approved by the civil service commission.
Moving Money Around
Barry said the city's budget is tight — so tight that no city employees, including department heads, got their regular 3 percent raise this fiscal year. And things aren't looking up yet — Barry said sales tax revenues for October and November are down 7.45 percent, or $174,810.34, from last year.
It is because of the the tight budget, Barry said, that the administration put a $75,000 cap on starting salaries for department heads. The salary for the CAO was also reduced by $5,000 as compared to the previous CAO's salary.
Because of the tight budget, the administration had to do some searching in order to fund the two new positions in the mayor's office. Part of the money for those salaries came from the reduction in starting salaries for department heads, McDonald said. The rest came from the removal of previous positions that had gone dormant and the removal of another position that was not dormant, but was deemed a duplication of services.
"We have not increased the city's budget as a result of these new positions," McDonald said.
Barry said that, if the budget allows, she hopes to be able to give raises to all city employees next year.