This past spring the
city cut employees from three departments: fire, police and streets.
The cuts were made because of less revenue coming in this year.
Just after those cuts
were made, two longtime department heads, City Clerk Juanita
Josserand and Streets Department Superintendent Donnie Osborne, took
early retirement incentives, leaving in their stead lower-paid
employees. Some dollars have accumulated from the salary
So it came to be
discussed: What to do with that excess? Most prevalent in the minds
of the council members and mayor were the effects of the cutbacks on
the city departments and the lack of pay raises for the chiefs.
One consideration was
to use those funds to hire some extra help for the departments that
had layoffs. It would help reduce the stress of staff shortage.
When the matter came
up for discussion at Tuesday's meeting, all the focus was on whether
or not to initiate raises for the chiefs at this time.
It's been over two
years since the city department heads received pay raises. The
chiefs are nonunion employees. A 2 percent to 3 percent annual raise
is the standard.
Other employees of
the city are union members and have continued to receive pay raises
as their unions negotiated them with the city.
bandied concerns about keeping a tight budget, public perception of
responsibility and morale for the leaders of the departments.
Verl Prather made the
motion that the department heads receive a 3 percent salary raise
for the remainder of the fiscal year, effective Sept. 1. Benny
Huskins seconded it.
The following are
representative comments that were made before the vote:
Shelton said that he was initially in favor of the raises but that
right now we do not have the finances to choose that.
He also introduced
another point. He is not for giving raises across the board without
looking at individual merit.
[to top of second column in this
Alderman Steve Fuhrer
said that to him the raises are not a matter of need or being
deserved; the issue is about keeping a budget. We said we are not
going to give raises this year and then we do it? I think it sends a
bad message, he said.
"Sure there is extra
money. We still have a tight budget," he said. Investment
percentages are not as they have been in past years. He believes
that there may still be a budget shortage.
added that he has never been in favor of across-the-board raises
either. He's definitely interested in rewarding the chiefs, but it
should be done on individual merit. He suggested that the city wait
till the end of the fiscal year and see what is available and then
give them bonuses.
Buzz Busby said, "The
gap between the department heads and employees is closing." The
unions have negotiated pay raises. "If you keep this up, you're
going to have trouble keeping them. Why should they be working
Huskins said, "It is
a slap in the face" to not give them a raise. It is not showing
Alderman Verl Prather
picked up, saying, "It is a shame to sit up here and brag these
people up and not take care of them. When you get a call and have to
call them, they are the ones that back you up. They make us look
He also stated that
the city needs to get away from paying employee salaries as we do
now with investment fund revenue. No city or business should do
that, he said.
Mayor Beth Davis
stressed financial responsibility. She said, "You have to look at
the economy." The economy is so tough that "states are laying off
employees and it is only a question of time before it hits this
She also pointed out
that as a government employee working for the state she went three
years without a raise and still did her job. "I chose these
individuals for their integrity and loyalty to the city, and I
believe they will still perform," she said.
When it came to vote the measure to give
the chiefs raises passed. The three "no" votes by Fuhrer, Tibbs and
Shelton were all based on budget concerns.