Most Mayors in Oklahoma Go Unpaid, Survey Shows

By Wolfe, Lou Anne | THE JOURNAL RECORD, June 16, 1992 | Go to article overview

Most Mayors in Oklahoma Go Unpaid, Survey Shows


Wolfe, Lou Anne, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Oklahoma City's mayor gets paid $2,000 a year. In Tulsa, the mayor makes $70,000.

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But when it comes to the job of mayor around Oklahoma communities, there are more exceptions than rules, according to a study by the Oklahoma Municipal League Inc.

"Those who believe `you don't get something for nothing' are dead wrong when it comes to the time, expertise and service Oklahoma citizens receive from their mayors," wrote Jana Bagwell, director of research.

A survey sponsored by the Oklahoma Conference of Mayors showed that 52 percent of mayors in Oklahoma receive no annual salary, 28 percent get less than $1,000 a year and 9 percent are paid less than $3,000 a year.

The survey was sent in fall 1991 to all Oklahoma Municipal League member cities and towns. Some 144 cities responded, for a 38 percent response rate. Municipalities with populations over 50,000, representing Oklahoma's "largest" and "large city" categories, responded with a rate of 100 percent; response rate from medium cities, population 10,000 to 49,999, was 71 percent; and response rate for small cities, population under 10,000, was 32 percent.

Oklahoma mayors work an average of 20 hours a week for their communities, but those in Oklahoma City and Tulsa _ with populations of more than 300,000 people _ average about 50 hours a week, the study showed. Large city mayors work an average of 18 hours a week, medium city mayors work an average of 22 hours a week and small city mayors work an average of 18 hours a week, the study showed.

Only 16 municipalities of the 144 that responded to the survey, or 11 percent, pay their mayors an annual wage of $3,000 or more. Half those municipalities have aldermen as governmental officials, while 25 percent have strong mayor governments, the survey showed. A few have councilnager governments or boards of trustees.

Three of the five highestid mayors in Oklahoma are represented by the strong mayor form of government. That includes Tulsa Mayor Rodger Randle, who is resigning effective July 14 to become president of the University Center at Tulsa.

The other four in the top five are mayors of Catoosa, Idabel, Pawnee and Weatherford.

Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick is part of a councilnager form of government. Norick, whose mayoral salary is $2,000 a year, will continue to serve as a consultant with Norick Brothers Inc. The familyned forms printing business was sold to Reynolds and Reynolds Co. effective June 1.

Oklahoma mayors receive comparatively less compensation than mayors in other states, according to figures from the 1992 Survey of America's City Councils published by the National League of Cities, Bagwell said. This assumes that mayors are also council members.

The national league survey showed that council salaries were most frequently in the $3,000 to $9,000 range. Council members in cities with councilnager forms of government generally receive less than $5,999 a year, while council members in mayoruncil cities receive more than $5,999, the study showed.

Examples of mayoral annual salaries in other states, from figures compiled by the national league, are Birmingham, Ala. _ $68,000 a year; Huntsville, Ala. _ $72,500; San Jose, Calif. _ $80,000; Dallas _ $2,400; Corpus Christi, Texas _ $9,000; and Houston _ $131,000. All have councilnager forms of government. …

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