Council members Charles Sharrock, Louis Hamm and Johnnie “Red” Smith voted against the budget, while Earl Gray and Eddie Stinnett voted for it.
The voted followed a third — and supposedly a final — public hearing on the budget. The new budget year begins Jan. 1. The city’s charter calls for the budget to be approved by Dec. 1 and requires three public hearings.
Sharrock said the council had instructed city manager Ron Goulart to find a “fair and equitable way of giving raises.
“He has not done that and for that reason I am voting ‘no’on this budget,” Sharrock said.
The past method — and the method used in the proposed budget — is a standard three percent raise across the board.
Goulart said he met with department heads in July to discuss the raise method. “We (the department heads) felt like the raise system was already the most fair way to award raises,” he said. “We took the approach that ‘if it's not broke, don't fix it’ ... It seemed like everyone was happy with it (the system).”
Sharrock said the method isn’t fair because department heads are making more on raises than rank-and-file workers.
Smith, who also rejected the proposed budget, said the city needs a “top-out” plan on raises. “Many of our salaried workers are making in excess of $60,000 and our hourly workers are at $22 per hour with overtime. We cannot afford this.”
Stinnett, who voted for the proposed budget, replied, “I don't see anything wrong with being a best-paying city.”
Stinnett pointed out that recently it took $80,000 to replace one employee. “Knowledge is what you pay for. I think you all are still in the horse-and-buggy age and we ought to be driving a Cadillac.”
The city manager said the city recently adjusted its entry salary levels.
Goulart, expressing surprise at the vote, told the council, “My door has been open. No one has come in to discuss any issues about the budget.”
Sharrock replied, “We shouldn't have to come to you. You failed to do what this council asked you to do.”