Three years of higher sales and property taxes and a tighter rein on spending have given the City of Conway an opportunity to increase salaries after a long, dry spell, Mayor Tab Townsell said Thursday night.

Calling the old seven step program "unsustainable," the City Council on Thursday voted in a new program based on a salary survey initially performed in 2009. The salary survey was updated in 2012 for Conway and was supplemented by the 2012 Arkansas Municipal League Salary survey of cities of over 49,000 population. DBSquared of Fayetteville conducted both Conway’s and the League’s surveys.

Almost everybody gets a raise, starting with the first paycheck of January.

Those that don’t get a raise, about 90 employees, are already at or above what the market suggests.

Some raises are more significant than others, but none are higher than cities of the same class.

For instance, the salary of the Mayor, who hasn’t had an increase since 2010 when he had a 1 percent raise, will go from $79,185 to $102,339.50, comparing with Little Rock’s Mayor at $160,000 and North Little Rock’s Mayor at $100,464.

The cities of Fayetteville ($107,039), Springdale ($101,875), Jonesboro ($104,073), Rogers ($117,416) and Pine Bluff ($83,170) also were used as comparisons.

The city’s other elected officials will get raises as well. The salary of City Attorney Mike Murphy will go from $85,480 to $101,493; City Clerk Mike Garrett from $57,750 to $65,506. City Council members’ pay was not changed.

Fire Chief Bart Castleberry’s salary will go from $83,660 to $87,224 to match Police Chief A.J. Gary’s salary, and Sanitation Director Cheryl Harrington’s salary will go from $67,490 to $79,337.

In addition, the lieutenant level at the Fire Department will be eliminated, with all lieutenants becoming Captains, making two levels of Captains.

The initial hires in the police and fire departments, who now are paid $29,700 will rise between $5,000 and $6,000, and in their fourth year will go to Step 2 at $38,136 and $37,458 respectively.

Castleberry said Friday that he’s heard good responses from his men.

(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at becky.harris@thecabin.net and 505-1234.)