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Comprehensive raise plan would give municipal employees sizable pay bump


Mayor Marco McClendon rolled out plans for a giant raise package for city workers Tuesday evening to city council. The mayor told city council the increase was the biggest boost to the payroll ever considered. City council was set to vote on the proposal on July 18. The biggest percentage increases went to front line workers, those visible to the community in delivering city services.

How will the incomes of the city workers dedicated to civil service stack up to those working in the private sector across the community? The average household income in Crittenden County stood at $38,500 according to the latest revised census numbers. Assuming two incomes per household that amounted to about $9.25 each per hour for a working couple. Demand for specialized services requiring a high degree of training drove up compensation recommendations for certain city workers.

Linemen, paramedics and police represent occupations in high demand with much invested in training and certification.

The proposed raises for city workers were based on a wage survey of other similar cities with statistics provided by the Arkansas Municipal League.

At the top of the pay raise list stood the mayor. Early in January city council representatives wanted the mayor’s salary increased commensurate with the chief executive position in similar cities. Mayor Bill Johnson had refused increases for an entire generation. McClendon’s pay will move from an outdated $48,0000 to $85,000. The $37,000 raise would plant the mayor in the middle salary range in the study.

One city compared to West Memphis paid its mayor $102,000 at the top end of the range.

“The recommended salary is based of the municipal league range,” said Budget Chairman Councilman Tracy Catt during a city council work session examining proposed raises for city government employees.

As a result of the survey, experienced police patrolman would received a $3,063 annual increase moving them to $40,830.

Rookie officers start at $33,820. Sergeants pick up a $2,210 raise. Lieutenants would make $48,984 and captains $59,834. The assistant chief proposed raise was $5,000 moving pay to $64,927.

The fire department would pass along a 9.25 percent raise to paramedics which provided a $52,421 annual gross salary. The increase in pay added up to $4,329 per year in salary with an additional retirement and benefit cost of $1,269. A starting firefighter/EMT has earned $31,507 and would see a $2,363 raise backed by a $630 increase in benefits and social security contributions by the city. On the top end, the plan reflected a $3,000 increase to $83,841 for the chief. Drivers annual pay rises $3,311 to $47,642.

Fire lieutenants get a $3,673 raise for a $52,641 annual salary.

Playing catch-up to the going municipal pay rates impacted city hall too.

The mayor’s plan called for an $8,050 raise for the public works director who would make $75,000 per year, with the administrative right hand climbing to $44,700. a $,2443 bump.

The mayor planned a raise for the Main Street director of $2,500 making the annual salary $45,999.

Line workers at the airport get almost $1,000 raise and start at $29,559 per year.

The director would get a $3,200 raise for a gross salary of $56,822.

Many of the biggest increases come out of the city finance department which was underpaid according to the study.

The city purchasing agent would get a $6,715 raise.

The payroll and computer operator 2 and book keeper would go up $5,984 and the data processing manager planned increase was $5000. The chief district court clerk raise amounted to $3,331. Every employee in animal control would receive $5,000 raise moving the starting salary to $15,389 and pushing the director just over $50,000 per year. The assistant planning and development director’s proposed increase amounted to the biggest adjustment in city staff with a $10,301 increase to bring the pay for the job to the mid range study recommendation to $55,000.

City Council representatives will consider the proposal until July 18 when the mayor has called for a vote. Citizens may provide feedback ahead of the vote by calling city council representatives. Contact information may be found by searching westmemphis. com.

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