The public is invited to chime in on the discussion to increase raises for city employees during the upcoming fiscal year.
Every year, city commissioners discuss the upcoming salaries of city staff.
It appears it’s time for a raise for non-step city employees and a discussion on whether that raise should be for 2.5 percent or 3 percent was volleyed back and forth at the dais during the Budget Workshop. It was initially suggested that all staff receive a 2.5 percent raise during the upcoming fiscal year to ensure their salaries remained competitive with other local governments, but Commissioner Mary Mathis asked for the city to consider bumping it up to a solid 3 percent. She argued that with everything that has gone on in the past year, city employees have more than earned the extra bump.
“We’ve been in a pandemic — COVID-19, coronavirus — and we’ve had to close City Hall, and our employees have worked, they’ve still provided services to our citizens, to us, some even worked from home,” Mathis said.
“My thought is to take — you know you can say ‘thank you’ many times, but let’s really show thanks — instead of 2.5 percent, I talked to the city manager and the CFO, to take this to 3 percent for our employees this year to say thank you, we really appreciate them. It would be a total cost of $140,000 to take it to 3 percent and that $140,000 would come from all the funds.”
It was explained “all the funds” meant the streets, stormwater, sewer, general fund — all the collective funds the city has could be tapped to round up the $140,000 difference.
Mathis reiterated it would be a great way for the city to say “thank you” to the employees that had to quickly adapt during the start of the pandemic. She added it would be a one-time shift and not something the city would commit to every year.
The city commissioners are also in charge of handling the raises of the city manager, city clerk and city attorney. Lott reminded the commissioner that McDaniel started the job at $150,000, which was $15,000 less than the previous city manager. Lott said that had they brought him in where the prior city manager had been at and then included the increases over the last few years, then this year he would have been at $193,000. Currently McDaniel makes $166,000, which Lott said is just a fraction more than what the city manager was making four years ago. The proposed 2.5 percent increase for city employees would bump him up to $170,000 this year.
“I said it earlier, there’s never a good time — you can always find a reason not to do something a little bit extra for someone that’s given a lot extra — and I think one of the reasons why we started out city manager at a lower (salary) than where our previous city manager was at that time was because that’s where we advertised it at, but also he was new to being a city manager and we had a very seasoned city manager before,” Lott said. “But I can tell you I didn’t see an adjustment at all. Our city manager hit the ground running as if he was the city manager for many, many, many years and I can tell you he took projects that were on hold and made them reality, and in his staff he made adjustments and he took things that we had discussed in our budgets for many, many years and sometimes we had a little bit of frustration whereas ‘why isn’t this completed yet,’ and he completed projects. So I really feel like if we had known that we would have the results that we’ve had, and hopefully I’m wording this right, we would have started him not at $150K, but where the previous city manager was because I don’t think he ever missed a beat.”
Lott proposed McDaniel’s worth was much more than where he currently is and asked that commissioners agree to give him a 5.35 percent raise instead of a 2.5 percent raise, which would take him to a flat $175,000. He argued it would still be much less than if they had started him where the prior city manager was.
The first public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for Sept. 14. Those who wish to voice their opinion on everything that is proposed are invited to participate in the hearing.