Former Alma City Clerk speaks at City Council about Mayor's salary increase

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Wayne Beck, former city clerk, spoke at the Alma city council meeting on April 15 to discuss the mayor's salary. Mayor Jerry Martin received a $25,000 increase to his salary in 2019. Beck asked the council questions on where the money came from, and asked that it be investigated.

Wayne Beck, the former City Clerk of Alma, spoke to the city council on April 15 to discuss Mayor Jerry Martins's raise that he received in 2019. Martin received a $25,000 raise to his salary, which culminates in an extra $100,000 in his four-year term.

Beck requested the council that the mayor's salary in 2022 after the next election be reduced to approximately $30,000. He also added that there be a merit aspect added to the salary.

"This merit will be based on performance, where you set objectives and goals," said Beck. "This guaranteed $50,000 that we have, the person doesn't even have to show up or meet any expectations."

Beck asked how the extra $25,000 was found in the first place. The ordinance that gave the mayor his raise was titled 2019-9 and was passed in June of that year.

"At the beginning of 2019, it was a very thin year as far as money goes," said Beck. For the budget of 2019, Beck said, Rinda Baker, the city attorney at the time, had a salary of $48,000 a year. The city attorney would also receive $15,000 that year for reimbursements and expenses.

"That was taken away," said Beck. "The reason being that at that time the mayor said we didn't have the money for it."

Beck explained that at the end of the year there wasn't any money available to give raises to those who receive their salary from the city's general fund. This includes police officers, dispatchers, park personnel, and the city planner's office.

Beck reiterated that the money for that year was thin. He passed out packets of information regarding the money available that year and conversations he had with the mayor.

On March 18 of 2019, Beck sent an email to the mayor that included finance reports that show that there was $75,000 in the bank for bills.

"Unfortunately at that time we still needed to pay the street fund about $34,000 and we owed the fire department about $53,000 which they pay yearly," said Beck. "On March 25 (2019) we would also have municipal insurance, payroll, and taxes. That would be anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 depending on how much was in the salaries at that time."

At this point, Beck reached his time limit and the mayor asked that he bring it to a close. Councilmember Evan Thacker asked that he be allowed more time and made a motion to allow it, which was accepted.

Beck continued and said that when he approached the mayor about the money issues, and how it needed to go to the council. According to Beck, the mayor replied that it would make them look bad. 

On March 18 through March 25, 2019, Beck said that the cash balance was $6,400 and they also received $66,000 in deposits. At this time, Beck reminded the mayor that they still owed the fire department and street department. On April 12, 2019, the cash account was up to $46,000 with deposits of $55,00, and they still owed the two departments the money as well as the need for payroll and insurance. 

"April had 20 days remaining to pay bills," said Beck. "Once again we didn't have the money to pay the fire department or the street department."

On April 23, 2019, Beck said the cash account was sitting at negative $76,000 with deposits of $113,000. Cash available was around $37,000.

All of this happened prior to the council approving the raise of $25,000 for the mayor. Beck asked if the mayor lied to the council about finding money after telling council members that the money was found. 

"Did these actions harm 25 other general fund employees who did not get pay raises," Beck asked. "Where that money was found I have no idea. It wasn't in the fund, and if it is available this council has the ability to investigate, and it should be readily available in finance reports."

Beck then moved on to the police reports that had been filed regarding Martin. 

"The mayor has stated that he has done nothing wrong and has not been charged," said Beck. 

Beck asked Alma Police Chief Jeff Pointer a question about the first police reports regarding a domestic call in October of 2020.

According to the police report, Martin's ex-wife stated the mayor had grabbed her by the hands and squeezed very hard. She did not pursue charges. 

Beck asked Pointer if the reason he wasn't charged was that there wasn't anything there to be charged with or because she didn't press charges, and if it would be considered assault and battery. 

"I wasn't there, and I trust the judgment of the officer that if an arrest needed to be made at that time, then an arrest would have been made," said Pointer. "I do think that Mrs. Martin had the option of pursuing those charges."

At this point, Martin asked, again, that Beck come to a close. 

Thacker expressed that he would like to hear what Beck had to say, and allowed him a few more minutes.

Beck then addressed the police report that stated that Martin had allegedly placed a GPS tracking device on his ex-wife's car and that if Beck himself would hypothetically do the same, would he be accused of stalking. Pointer denied commenting.

Finally, Beck addressed the police report stating that Martin had been following two 18-year olds and that he messaged someone asking that he lookout for the vehicle for him. 

Beck asked if this would be considered harassment. Pointer replied that it wouldn't be his decision, but the prosecutor's decision.

"Once again we have no real answers," said Beck. "That would be up to the attorney."

As he closed, Beck asked the council if Martin has been a positive role model for the city, and should he consider resigning. 

"No, I don't think that this has been the example that we need to set for our mayor," said Evan Thacker. 

Councilmember Larry Blasingame said that they should hold the people working for the city and even the members of the community to a higher caliber. 

"Do I believe that there have been opportunities for improvement?" asked Blasingame. "Sure, but I'm not going to comment on anything else."

Beck thanked the council and closed with a statement saying that when he worked at the city the mayor had told him not to discuss anything with the city attorney, department heads, or city council without being threatened with being fired and that he was willing to submit to a polygraph on anything that he had spoken about that evening.