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City employees receive pay raise

The Eutaw City Council voted Tuesday night to give city employees a three-percent raise. However, mayor Raymond Steele believes additional raises given specific employees may break the city’s budget.

Councilman Cecil Durrett Jr., representing the finance committee, proposed a three percent raise across the board. In addition, a few individuals will receive more money due to times of service to the city and reports of excellent work by supervisors, Durrett said. Some people were also being rewarded for upgrading through training and gaining particular licenses.

The annual increase to the city budget will be a little over $55,000.

Councilman Lou Bostick was in agreement with the raises, however, “we’ve got an X number of dollars. We’re going to have to watch what we’re spending. There are some commitments on the table for grant matching money.

“We’re spending a lot of money this year….We need to keep our budget in mind.”

Mayor Steele objected to certain individuals getting more than the three percent raise. He did not agree with the method devised for granting raises. “I’m very concerned about the employees and the salaries and monies they make,” he said. The mayor had written a letter Tuesday to supervisors saying there will be no overtime allowed unless approved by Steele.

“We’ve managed three-and-a half years in the black. I’m real concerned this year being able to stay within the budget.”

There are obligations to be met, the mayor said. “The city is in the infrastructure business. Our business is to provide sewer and water and roads. We have some problems in these areas.” Steele said there was over $200,000 in matching money for grants and other payments. “I don’t see how we are going to stay within the budget.”

There are already employees who will move into a higher pay bracket such as dispatchers and police officers. The mayor wanted the finance committee to go back and revisit the other raises. Some part-time employees are receiving raises, and supervisors were not consulted in some instances.

The mayor should set the salaries for the employees and the council approves it, Steele said. “The council has come into the executive branch of government and told the mayor and supervisors (which employees are) going to get a raise – regardless of what the mayor and supervisors say….That is wrong.”

Steele said the council is letting employees know that if they want a raise they should come to the council instead of the supervisors or mayor.

The city budget has been managed well in the last few years to allow for a three percent raise, the mayor said. “If we overdo it we are going to revert back to where there may be reduced hours again or maybe some other action taken. I don’t want to see that happen.”

“We want to be responsible and we want to be as conservative as we can financially,” said councilman David Spencer. “Also, we want to be fair with our employees. This responsibility does belong to this body (the council).” Spencer made the motion to accept the finance committee recommendation, and the council approved the motion.