City Considers Employee Pay Hike

During a work session Thursday, Meridian City Council members explored options on how to increase pay for city workers.

Officials say the new budget will be lean. In fact, they say overall revenues are so limited that schools within the city could face cuts.

Mayor Cheri Barry says next year's budget will include a pay raise for all city employees.

"Last year we gave them one-and-a-half percent and this year we are requesting the council to approve a 2% raise," said Barry. "I just believe that we need to continue to motivate our employees. They work extremely hard."

Citing the fact that the city is losing good employees because of low pay, Barry says a pay increase is necessary.

Meanwhile, council president, Dr. George Thomas, says although it's a good idea, right now the city cannot afford raises.

"There's just no money now. We'll finagle the budget around where we move some things. It's going to be a very difficult thing to give any kind of pay raises," said Thomas.

Once adjustments are made, Thomas says he's not against a pay raise for city employees. However, that's with a stipulation.

"If we give a raise, I want an across-the-board, flat amount," Thomas said. "It means a whole lot more to the people at the bottom of the pay scale to get that kind of raise. If you give a percentage, it gives more money to the people at the top."

Meanwhile, council members say property values for the city are expected to be down and that's not good, especially for schools.

"They've estimated that they'll be down 2% which means that if it's down 2%, the schools will get 2% less money than they received last year out of taxes," said Thomas.

The Meridian City Council must approve a final budget for 2013 prior to the start of the new fiscal year, Oct. 1.

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