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No bonuses for WM workers


Mayor reminds council of agreement following municipal employee raises

It never hurts to ask.

That’s what some West Memphis city workers did with their city council representatives.

Public Works employees in the street and sanitation departments asked Councilwoman Lorraine Mohammed for a Christmas bonus courtesy local tax payers. The request came up during the December public works meeting just after commissioners looked at the public works department 2020 budget proposal featuring a $900,000 deficit-spending plan to fix up decaying infra structure next year. The timing of the request could not have been worse.

Mohammed and Councilman James Holt spoke for a bonus.

“I am all for the frontline workers that work hard in the winter weather climbing poles, fixing streets and collecting our garbage,” said Holt.

“The bonuses at the top aren’t as important as those out doing the work for the city.”

Previous year end bonuses for the approximately 375 city employees have cost local taxpayers around $400,000 to spread the holiday cheer.

Mayor Marco McClendon quickly reined back on the discussion with a reminder before asking BONUSES

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council representatives to “work harder.”

“When you all, the city council, agreed not to give bonuses to anyone one with any raises,” said McClendon. “Y’all remember that, right?”

“I remember,” said Mohammed.

You made that decision with the largest raises ever given, that they’d raises and not bonuses.

The city handed out a record setting pay increases effective in July to stave of attrition and come into line with pay rates in similar Arkansas cities. Paramedics landed a 9 percent increase and other emergency workers received an additional 7.5 percent boost in pay.

A few departments got raises last year and the action city council took in mid-year finished the raise process for the entire city workforce.

“There are people asking, even though they got a raise,” said Mohammed.McClendon remembered voting for every bonus when he was a councilman, but said the city could afford no more this year.

“Ill be honest with you,” said McClendon.

“I would love to give city employees a bonus, but we have to be responsible due to the fact the money is not there.

I’d hate to have to lay someone off in order to do something like this.

The raises were very significant. I know they want a bonus. We could have gotten a them a 20 percent raise and they’d still want bonus money.

I always voted bonuses because our workers got no raises for years. Bonuses in my opinion just don’t work for people that really just need a bigger income, like those in public works.”

Councilman and budget chairman Tracy Catt pointed to an option to let city workers know about any holiday bonuses way ahead of time for next year.

“Ideally, after the first quarter of 2020, when the books are closed on 2019 and we see exactly where we are, then we can go ahead and see if we can set aside $100,000 for Christmas bonuses.”

City workers would then be able to plan Christmas spending based on any amount City Council would earmark

over from this year.

In order manage spending expenses, Mc-Clendon called on city council to meet monthly beginning in April to coordinate communication and monitor spending and tax revenue against

“You all took a raise last year, too,” said Mc-Clendon.

City council gave themselves a 50 percent raise last year, going from $800 per month to $1,200.

“We need to work on those things throughout the year,” said McClendon. “We all got a little more money. We’ve all got to do a little bit more.”

The Public Works Commission took no action toward recommending bonuses to the full city council.

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