Another attempt to raise Stonecrest mayor’s salary falls through

Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary

Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary

Another attempt to increase the salary for the mayor of Stonecrest has fallen flat.

A bill in the state Legislature that would have raised Mayor Jason Lary’s salary and made several other changes to how the city operates did not pass this year. Lary said the city ran out of time to properly advertise the proposed changes to the charter, which is required by law, so the bill could not move forward.

“That was a heartbreaker,” Lary said. “We’ll come back next year with it.”

The tweaks would have raised the mayor’s annual salary from $20,000 to the median income for Stonecrest, which is more than $50,000.

House Bill 679, sponsored by Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Lithonia, also included changes the City Council proposed in a resolution early last year. It would institute a "strong-mayor" form of government in Stonecrest, under which the mayor would officially be the chief executive of the city. It would strip the mayor's voting rights on the Council, so only the city's five councilors would vote. The mayor would have veto power, and only vote in the case of a tie.


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Lary has tried multiple times to increase his salary since becoming Stonecrest's first mayor. Before Stonecrest even became a city, state lawmakers lowered the proposed mayor's salary from $75,000 to $20,000.

Last year, Lary supported a bill that would have tweaked the city's structure and restored his salary to $75,000. But it failed after Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, pushed back on the bill, saying that "we did not create the city to be a jobs program for the mayor and his cronies." Lary said at the time that he was insulted by that comment and pointed out that he works full time.

Then, the City Council last August voted 4-2 against taking the initial steps needed to raise the mayor's salary to $75,000.

Lary, however, said he is more disappointed that it has taken more than two legislative sessions to get the city’s proposed new government structure passed.

Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Lithonia, sponsored the bill amending Stonecrest’s charter.

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“It’s frustrating to me that I can’t get business done through the state representatives when all of us at the local level agree,” he said. Lary clarified that it was not Rep. Jones’ fault that the bill did not make it through this year, and it could have passed if the city had advertised the proposed changes on time.

Jones said he heard from several community members in support of the bill, which stays alive for next year. He said the legislation would “fine tune” Stonecrest’s charter.

Stonecrest officials were able to get one local bill passed this year: under HB 563 the city is now allowed to impose an excise tax up to 8 percent on hotels and motels in the city. Stonecrest can use some of the funds to promote tourism, conventions and trade shows.

Lary, who became mayor in 2017, is up for reelection this fall and said he plans to run.