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Cost revealed as Montgomery approves sizable pay raises for all city employees

Published: Jun. 15, 2021 at 10:38 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The city of Montgomery announced Tuesday that first responders and front-line workers will soon see a hefty bump in the size of their paychecks thanks to a realignment of the city’s pay plans.

Now, it’s explaining how much money that decision will cost taxpayers and where the money will come from.

A city spokesperson said the annual cost will total around $16 million and that the city will be able to afford it through “lowering of long and short-term due to restructuring of debt” and an “upward trend on certain revenue streams.”

“We’ll present that in our 2021-2022 budget. So the pay raise will come effective October the first. So it will have a net impact of about $16 million. And we believe, based on our numbers right now, that can easily be absorbed because of the, again, our restructuring of long-term debt, the financial position of the city, as well as the increased revenues that are coming into our coffers,” said Mayor Steven Reed.

Reed spoke on camera about the increase following Tuesday’s City Council work session.

“Well, we think it was the right time because we were able to restructure some long-term debt and we know that our employees have gone without merit raises and cost-of-living adjustments for a number of years and they have put in some great work, in particular during the pandemic. And because of the rise in revenue, we were able to do that and it was a priority for us as an administration to show our appreciation for the work that they do,” he said.

A city spokesperson said the changes did not need to be approved by the City Council since it was approved by the city-county personnel board.

When the City Council votes on the next fiscal year budget, the new salary increases will be part of that budget.

“Basically, that will come up in our budget process. He’ll propose that budget to the council. We will vote on it up or down and whether we’re going to give those raises. I think the council’s in favor because we know how hard our employees work and I think it will be a good thing for our employees,” said Councilman Cornelius “CC” Calhoun.

According to Reed’s office, the decision was made after several years in which employees did not get merit increases or cost-of-living adjustments.

A survey performed over the past year showed Montgomery’s employee salaries “were well below” other similar cities and organizations. The pay changes mean employee salaries will increase to close that gap, putting Montgomery “at or near the top” in those categories.

“This will result in substantial salary increases for the Montgomery Police Department, Montgomery Fire/Rescue, Sanitation, Street Maintenance and all city employees,” the city said in a statement.

“Well, it depends on the class of employee, but we’ll see sanitation, street maintenance and landfill workers. Again, those hardworking employees that I was speaking about earlier get the largest inquiries, which will put them at the top of near the top of any peer city in Alabama of 19 and a half percent. That was a pledge I made when we ran for office and this is the pledge that we’ve been able to keep and the same goes for with our public safety. They’ll also be at or near the top with about a 14 and a half percent increase. And then we’ll see others at around 10 and 12 percent marks with more administrative roles. But I think, again, for us it’s long overdue to reward our city employees for the challenges they’ve had not getting those merit increases, not getting those cost-of-living adjustments,” said Reed.

How substantial? Under the plan approved by the Montgomery City-County Personnel Board on June 8, all city employees will see double-digit percentage increases in their salary.

Police officers’ and firefighters’ pay will increase by 14.5% while those in Sanitation, Street Maintenance, Landfill and other departments will see a 19% jump.

“This restructuring comes after a long process of review,” Reed said. “It will help us support those who take care of our community while also ensuring the city can recruit and retain the necessary number of officers, Sanitation workers or administrative positions to be a more responsive organization.”

The change is effective as of Oct. 1, 2021.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to clarify the headline to indicate pay raises will increase by double-digit percentages.

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