The council has been trying to work out a raise for city employees, but confusion about finances has stalled the process.
Much of the confusion about the state of the city’s finances comes from a lack of records on the city’s income and expenses for approximately 18 months. The council has concrete records for most of this calendar year, since new city clerk Cindy Vines was hired. The city has hired an accountant to assist Vines in her efforts to recreate financial records for the year before her arrival.
“Cindy gives us better detail than we’ve ever gotten before, even though she has limited information on what happened before she came.” Council Member Kristie Tuggle said. “And that’s through no fault of Cindy’s, I know she would give it to us if she could, if she had it. ”
Of greater concern to the council currently is the city’s expenses for the last 18 months. Detailed records are available from February to the present, but before that the records are mostly nonexistent.
“We’ve kind of come up with our revenue, although we had to estimate some things. But, we still don’t know what expenses we have,” Tuggle said.
Mayor Chris Edwards had asked the council to consider either a 2 percent or 5 percent raise for all city employees. A 2 percent raise across the board would cost the city $13,355.02 per year, while a 5 percent raise would cost $19,912.17 per year.
Council members raised concerns that the city’s lowest paid employees would not see much of an increase at that rate.
There are 15 part-time employees with the city who receive minimum wage, which is currently $7.25.
Many different theories were discussed, including a flat dollar-per-week amount added to each person’s check, the percentage raises and a graduated pay increase schedule.
One suggestion was to raise the minimum-wage employees up to $8 per hour and give the other employees, who are currently making $8 or more an hour (or salaried employees) a percentage raise.
Although the proposed methods varied, and concerns about the city’s financial state remain, all the council members agreed with Edwards that the employees deserve a raise.
“We all know that the employees deserve a raise, but without the numbers we’re just taking blind action,” council member Hezekiah Walker said.
The city employees have not received a raise in a number of years, the only additional compensation they have received was the city covered the last two annual increases to the employees’ insurance.
“I don’t know how we’ve kept the employees we have with no raises,” council member Clyde Nix said.
Edwards had also asked the council to consider changing the rate that volunteer firefighters receive per call. He had asked that each firefighter begin receiving $2.50 per medical call and $15 per fire call. Currently, the firefighters receive no pay for medical calls and receive $2.50 per fire call.
The fire department logged 2,888 fire responses and 4,171 medical responses last year.
At that rate, council members felt the cost to the city would be too great. Many different combinations of figures were thrown around and the cost figured. The final consensus seemed to be that the medical call rate would be raised to $2.50 and all other calls would be paid at a rate of $5 per person, per call.
Because this was a work session, not a formal meeting, no votes could be taken during the session. The matters under discussion are expected to be brought up again at Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled council meeting.