By Theresa Stratford for The Island Connection
Serving as mayor of Kiawah Island or as a member of Town council won’t pay off – monetarily that is. At the July 6 Town Council meeting, Kiawah Island Town Council unanimously approved, on first reading, Ordinance 2021-09, which would rescind Ordinance 2020-13 passed in December 2020 approving a salary for council members and the mayor. However, the Ordinance 2020-13 declared that such pay did not create an employment relationship and would not entitle them to employee benefits.
“The intentions were good,” Mayor John Labriola explained. “Back in December 2020, Council had hoped to recruit more citizens by recognizing, stabilizing and encouraging them to run for a municipal office by offering pay, but we know more now then we did then and it won’t work out.” The reason? Mayor Labriola said that the IRS would consider members of Council and the Mayor as municipal employees if they were paid as elected officials and would therefore be required to receive benefits. “The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority would require us to receive benefits since we would be considered employees if we were being paid. Therefore the previous ordinance of 2020-13 is inconsistent with the intent of what the previous council desired.” And with that, Ordinance 2021-09 was approved on the first reading that Ordinance 2020-13 be rescinded and revoked in full.
“The Mayor and members of Council for the Town of Kiawah Island shall receive no salary and no benefits other than reimbursement for expenses.” The second reading to enact the ordinance will take place at the Town Council meeting in August. The mayor and council members of Seabrook Island serve without compensation as well. In Charleston, Mayor John Tecklenburg has an estimated annual compensation of $188,222.11.
City Council members make between $14,000 and $18,000 per year.