The city’s 450 employees will receive a 2 percent pay increase and a one-time 1.5 percent lump sum payment.
“Our employees have done a great job. The city’s total revenues are up and we have reduced expenses. They deserve the increases,” said Vice Mayor Bert Premuroso, who proposed the pay raise.
The council on Thursday night voted 3-1 to approve the pay increase. The 2 percent cost-of-living increase will cost the city about $400,000. The cost for the lump sum payment is about $476,000. The proposal approved by the council also included about $782,000 for capital improvements, bringing its total cost to about $1.7 million.
Councilman Joe Russo voted no, but not because he opposed the raise. Russo said he did not agree with spending money for capital improvements.
“Our employees are the best asset we have,” Russo said. “They are the ones who do the work. They have stuck with us, and they deserve a raise.”
The raises are for all full-time employees, including members of the city’s public safety departments. The council voted to exclude themselves from the 1.5 percent lump-sum payment. The council will receive the 2 percent increase starting next year, which is required by the city charter. Council members are paid $25,270 annually.
“We should exclude ourselves from both increases,’ Vice Mayor Pro Tem Marcie Tinsley said.
Some residents criticized the raises, saying the city is acting to soon in the economic recovery.
“There is a little light at the end of the tunnel,” John Chaplik told the council. “We have to be careful in good times as we consider economic expenditures.”
Another resident, Kevin Easton, said rather than across-the-board increases, the raises should be based on merit.
“That’s the way the real business world operates in the real world,” said Easton.
The numbers of permits the city issued and the permit revenue it collected increased about 10 percent during 2012 compared with 2011. That additional revenue will help pay for the raises, Premuroso said.
A city employee making $40,000 annually would receive an additional $400 — about $15 a week — in the six months until Sept. 30 with the 2 percent increase. That same employee also would get $600 for the 1.5 percent one-time payment.