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City pay raises approved

Brookhaven aldermen Tuesday voted to give 3 percent pay raisesto full-time city employees, including themselves and other electedofficials, and to purchase three new police vehicles after $189,000in unexpected revenue was found at the end of fiscal year 2002.

The city began fiscal year 2003 Tuesday with the unbudgetedrevenue, which came from several sources. Aldermen voted 6-1 lastnight to use that money to give pay raises to employees.

“I’m always agreeable to giving raises for employees,” said Ward1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron, who made the motion for the additionalpay, after last night’s meeting. “We ask them to do some toughjobs, and they’re doing a good job for the city.”

Although not mentioned during the board discussion, the measureincludes pay hikes for elected officials. The 3 percent actionraises an alderman’s pay to an estimated $14,016 a year and themayor’s pay to an estimated $56,064 a year, excluding healthinsurance and other benefits covered by the city.

The elected officials’ pay raises are the fourth in the sixyears of the current Mayor Bill Godbold administration. Cameronalso discussed the elected officials’s raises after themeeting.

“I’m not selfish, and I’m not looking out for self,” Cameronsaid.

Cameron said the board is responsible for making decisions thataffect all of Brookhaven. He said the board is always on call forcitizens and their activity will increase because ofannexation.

“It’s going to be more because the city is growing,” Cameronsaid.

Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner voted against the measure lastnight.

“I’m a little concerned about one-time money for an all-timeraise…,” Bumgarner said, indicating the possibility of taxincreases next year. “In order to balance the budget, you’ve got toraise revenue or cut costs.”

Other officials indicated the money was not necessarily one-timemoney.

The majority of the money, over $103,000, was HUD grantreimbursement for past city-paid expenses related to the Whitworthstorm drainage project. The rest was from closer calculation ofcity employee health insurance premiums and tax loss reimbursementfunds from the state.

“This is money we didn’t know we were going to have,” Cameronsaid, adding that the money would be spent elsewhere if not onraises.

During budget preparation earlier this year, aldermen did notinclude employee pay raises after the city was hit with a 27.8percent increase in employee health insurance premiums. Ward 2Alderman Terry Bates mentioned the tight budget picture duringboard discussion.

“This year was the closest one ever on our budget,” Bates said,also expressing concerns about the possibility of a tax increasenext year.

Ward 5 Alderman Tom Smith supported the 3 percent raises, butsaid he would like it to be more.

“I’d like to see us sit on it until the first of the year andsee if we can give 5 percent,” Smith said.

Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson said city employeeswork hard.

“I think they deserve whatever they can get,” Wilson said.

The 3 percent raises for approximately 160 city employees willcost $112,315 in the general fund, $13,903 in the water and sewerdepartment and $12,432 in the solid waste department. City ClerkIris Rudman said individual pay totals will be spread on theminutes.

“I think we all agree we’re glad to to have got it,” Smith saidwhen asked about employee pay raises after the meeting.

Tuesday’s action also included funds to purchase three new carsfor the police department. The department had sought new carsduring budget discussions, but all vehicle and equipment purchaseswere removed during budget-balancing efforts.

Cameron was glad to be able to obtain cars for the policedepartment and said they would be a benefit to citizens.

“When they call, the new cars will be a way for the police toget there,” Cameron said.

In other city employee-related action Tuesday, aldermen approvedthe laying off of seven employees in the solid wastedepartment.

Initially, due to a projected budget deficit, 10 employees inthat department were targeted for termination. However three,including L.D. Burnett who was named animal control officer, wereable to be transferred to other city departments.

Also, aldermen took no action following an executive session forfire department and solid waste department personnel matters. CityAttorney Joe Fernald said both issues had been take underadvisement.