August 1, 2014 10:28:25 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
A small pay increase for Starkville employees is in limbo after the city's budget committee recommended to only fully fund increasing insurance expenses in the upcoming fiscal year.
Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins came out against an incremental raise for city employees Thursday, saying the city cannot afford the additional expenses. However, budget committee chairman Scott Maynard and Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn opted to push the discussions to the full board of aldermen at a later date.
Starkville is expected to incur a $107,268 expense for every 1 percent it adds on for employee salaries, Maynard said. That total includes the city's contributions to Social Security and retirement funds. It is not known yet how much the city is projected to spend on insurance.
Perkins agreed to continue fully funding employee insurance -- he called the safeguard a major benefit to workers -- but said governmental needs, including capital expenditures, prevent Starkville from expanding its salaries next fiscal year.
"We have a lot of things on our plate as we're moving forward next fiscal year," he said. "Even the 1 percent, that represents a lot of money here. Having sat on this committee since 1993, pay raises become very sensitive with staff. At the same time, we as elected officials are elected to make these tough decisions."
In their first year in office, the aldermen increased taxes by almost 2 mills in September to help curb increasing expenditures and tend to what leaders called a long-overdue raise for its employees.
If the board does not approve pay raises for the upcoming fiscal year, Maynard said the board's likelihood to again address the issue in Fiscal Year 2015-2016 is high.
"I think we came a lot closer this past year with the extra increases," he said. "(Improving employee pay to marks similar to comparable municipalities) is a process, but we'll get there."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch