RIVERSIDE – Mayor Rusty Jessup will ask the City Council next week to approve a cost-of-living raise for all city employees, he said Thursday.

“It’s time to give the employees a cost-of-living raise,” he said.

Jessup said the last cost-of-living raise employees received was in 2008, although employees are given step raises.

Jessup said employees are generally given a 10 percent raise after completing one year of service with the city, and employees receive additional 10 percent pay increases every five years.

He said each employee will receive, if approved by the council, about a 3.5 percent raise, which could go into effect Oct. 1.

Jessup said the raises will cost the city between $25,000 and $26,000 a year.

“I think we can afford it,” he said.

He said for the first time in five or six years, the city is seeing revenues surpass expenses in both the general fund and the water department.

Jessup said after the third quarter, both the general fund budget and water department budget are both in the black about $30,000 each.

“The economy is picking up,” he said. “I think those numbers are going to get even better during the fourth quarter.”

Jessup said the pay increase is not just about the council trying to fill the water/street department superintendent position, but about retaining current employees as well as attracting quality candidates for vacant city positions.

The mayor had asked the council at Tuesday’s work session to consider allowing the city to pay for all insurance costs for city employees, but he said some employees do not get insurance through the city.

He said all employees would benefit from a cost-of-living raise.

“The raise will include full- and part-time employees,” Jessup said.

He said Riverside has about 11 full-time employees and about 30 part-time workers.

Riverside currently pays all individual insurance costs for city employees and half the insurance cost for family coverage.

“It’s getting hard to hire someone as cheap as what we pay,” Jessup told the council at Tuesday’s work session. “... We don’t pay these people enough.”

At Tuesday’s work session, councilmen Kenny Womack and Jimmy Hollander questioned whether the city could afford to pay for all insurance costs for city employees, which would cost the city about the same as the proposed cost-of-living raise.

Jessup said he will ask the council to approve the raise at next Tuesday’s council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.