RIVERSIDE – City employees will not receive a cost-of-living raise, at least not any time soon.
Mayor Rusty Jessup made a motion for the council to approve the first reading of an ordinance which would provide all city employees with a 3.5 percent raise, but the mayor’s motion died for a lack of a second by members of the City Council.
“I’m disappointed,” Jessup said after Tuesday night’s council meeting.
He asked for the cost-of-living raise after the council unanimously approved the 2015 fiscal year budget.
“I would like to see the city adopt (the cost-of-living raise) instead of insurance,” Jessup said, adding that the raise would cost the city about $25,000 a year.
“I think it’s very needed,” Jessup told the council.
The mayor said city employees have not received a cost-of-living raise since 2008, but Councilman Johnny Osborn disputed that, saying employees are given raises.
“Those are merit increases, not cost-of-living raises,” Jessup said.
He said merit raises are for employees who remain with the city and gain more experience.
“You’re paying for experience,” Jessup said.
Osborn said he was against a cost-of-living raise.
“You act like $24,000-$26,000 is nothing,” Osborn said. “Five weeks ago, we didn’t have $9,200 to finish a road. I’m against it.”
Councilman Jimmy Hollander said he is concerned about giving a pay raise the city may not be able to afford.
“It’s not like I don’t think our employees deserve it, or are not worthy of a raise,” he said after the meeting.
He said the city has seen an upswing in revenue, but he wants to make sure that trend continues before the city starts handing out raises.
“Just two or three months ago we were scrambling about how we were going to pay the bills,” Hollander said.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the council authorized the mayor to hire Brien Gulledge as the new water and street superintendent for the city.
Jessup was apprehensive that Gulledge would accept the job because of the starting pay for the position.
“You turned down my cost-of-living raise (ordinance),” Jessup said. “… We can’t keep asking $10 (an hour) employees to do a $20 an hour job, and that’s the problem. We need to be competitive or at least come close.”
The council talked about raising the salary for that one position, the water/street superintendent, although Jessup said in the past he was against giving one department head more money than another city department head.
Jessup said it was not fair.
“I think you would hurt morale,” he said.
In other matters, the council also approved the Central Dispatch Agreement for 2015.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.