Council Approves Budget

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Meridian City Council members had debated between giving employees a $750 raise or a 2.5 percent increase.

Until now they had decided on the $750 plan. That would be more than 2.5 percent for lower paid employees and much less for some of the higher paid workers.

But at Tuesday's council meeting, the administration advanced a new plan: $750 for employees paid below $30,000 per year and 2.5 percent for those paid above it. The council approved it 4-1 with Bobby Smith opposing.

"Where is the money coming from? I still don't know. We didn't have enough money originally for $750 straight across the board, but now we've got enough money for $750 and those who get more, up to $2000 something dollars," said Smith. "We found money for that. I don't understand it. I'm totally in the dark."

Ward 1 councilman, Dr. George Thomas, supported the idea.

"I think it's fair; either way is fair. You can give them 2.5 percent, that's fair. You can give them a minimum raise with people getting 2.5 percent, if you can afford the money. I think the big thing is can you afford it," said Thomas.

Thomas took the position that the city can afford it.

"The money's in the budget. I think you'll remember in the budget talks we anticipate saving tens of thousands of dollars on a new insurance program," Thomas said. "We've cut out some things we previously were going to do. We didn't include the number of employees we were going to include, so the money's there. The money's there."

The millage rate has not yet been set, but Thomas said fellow council members do not expect a millage increase.