The Booneville City Council last week approved a salary ordinance and budget for 2014 that is pretty much the same as the ones passed by the council last December.
The salary ordinance reflected no raises for city employees for the first time since Jerry Wilkins was elected mayor of the city.
“It’s really sad this has to happen,” said Wilkins. “We’re operating in the red, we’ve got to get back in line. I will say that these salaries, even without a raise, are well above anybody else’s salaries for what we do here.”
Department heads are paid $40,300, according to the ordinance.
Wilkins did not rule out an increase later.
“Maybe next year something will come in and we might even be able to do a bonus,” he said. “But right now this is the best we can do.”
Wilkins had no trouble identifying the cause for the downturn in city finances.
“We live on oil and gas leases and they’re gone,” said Wilkins.
Wells the city receives a royalty for are located on Booneville Water Department land north of the city, Wilkins said.
“It because of less usage. We’ve got wells, they just don’t use it. At one time it wouldn’t be nothing to get a $70,000 or $80,000 check on gas wells and now they’re $3,000 or $4,000.”
“At one time we were bringing in over $400,000 a year on just rent and lease and now this year we’re barely going to hit $100,000, so we’ve lost 75 percent,” said city clerk Melinda Smith.
“It will come back, maybe,” said Wilkins.