Councilman says raises for DeRidder workers not enough

The DeRidder City Council has approved a new operating budget that includes a pay raise for city employees, but some members of the panel expressed disappointment in what they said was a “too small” increase.

On Monday night the panel approved the city’s operating budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which included a 50 cent-per-hour pay raise for city employees. Councilman Julian “PeeWee” Williams, however, argued that amount was not enough.

“I know it’s more than what they started with, but really 50 cents is almost a slap in the face,” Williams said. “We have guys out there working in manholes and cleaning up trash in the parks, and they do it with a positive attitude and a smile on their face. They deserve more from us than this.”

The pay raise is the first for city employees in the past four years, according to Mayor Misty Clanton.

Council member Vincent Labue said that while the pay may not have increased in those years, the city has worked to alleviate expenses in other ways.

“As health care costs have risen over the past years, the city has absorbed those costs and did not put it on the employees,” Vincent said. “That has saved them a lot of money each year.”

Last year, according to Clanton, the city raised its minimum starting pay for all new employees to $9.75. That pay is set to increase after six months of employment, and to date the lowest pay earned by an employee of the city is $11 an hour.

The police department also received a separate, 25 cent-per-hour pay raise for its employees in the approved budget. That increase will be distributed to employees according to the department’s operating pay scale based on tenure and rank.

Williams said he intends to continue working for higher pay for city employees, saying that when next year’s budget is reviewed he intends to seek a $1.50 increase per hour for city employees.

Clanton said that increase could cost a minimum of $700,000 for the city once benefits are included.

“A pay raise for the employees was a priority for the new budget this year and will be in the years that come,” Clanton said.

“We are working towards a pay scale with built-in raises for rank and tenure for all city employees.”

‘I know it’s more than what they started with, but really 50 cents is almost a slap in the face.’

Julian Williams

DeRidder Councilman

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