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Two DeSoto County mayors now earn more than Mississippi's governor

GOOD GIGS: The mayors of two DeSoto County cities, Southaven and Olive Branch, are the two highest-paid mayors in Mississippi. Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

Being a mayor in two of DeSoto County's largest cities is a more lucrative gig than the governor of Mississippi.

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite is the state's highest-paid mayor, raking in $150,000 per year, while Olive Branch Mayor Scott Phillips is the state's second highest paid mayor with an annual salary of $132,683 per year.

Gov. Phil Bryant earns a salary mandated by state law of $122,160 annually.

This was according to the bi-annual salary survey last done in 2017 by the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University in conjunction with the Mississippi Municipal League and other sources.

Only 105 of the state's 298 municipalities responded to the voluntary survey, which equates to 35.3 percent. Among those who declined to participate were the state's largest city, Jackson, and the third-largest, Southaven.

Southaven last participated in the 2015 survey, while Jackson's last response came in 2005.

Both cities are fast-growing suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee. Southaven has a population of 53,214, up 67.5 percent from the 2000 U.S. Census, making it the third-largest city in Mississippi. Neighboring Olive Branch's population now numbers 36,699.

Musselwhite's salary earns as much as the mayors of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Tampa, Florida. Phillips makes slightly more than the mayors of St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba earns a salary of $119,999 per year and that makes him the third highest-paid mayor in Mississippi.

Fourth is Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich ($115,898), while fifth is Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee ($94,298).

The two DeSoto County mayors aren't the only mayors nationwide earning more than their governor. The top four highest-paid mayors all have bigger salaries than their governors.

San Francisco has the nation's highest paid mayor, Edwin Lee, who makes $289,000 per year. Second is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who earns $238,000 per year.

Both have salaries much larger than that of California Gov. Jerry Brown, who now makes $195,806. The new California governor elected in November will receive a pay raise up to $201,680.

Third is Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who brings in $235,000 annually, which is far more earned by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ($150,000).

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio is fourth with $225,000, while his pay exceeds that of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ($179,000).

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