Is the Raise for Shreveport City Workers a Recipe for Disaster?
Shreveport City Council members will be voting Tuesday on a proposal to increase the pay of all non-elected city workers by 13%, a move that has many, including District C representative John Nickelson, concerned about the financial wisdom of the move.
Councilman Says 13% for Police and Fire is Necessary...
"The information I've received...over the past two years has established that a (pay raise) of 13% is necessary to competitively compensate our police officers and firefighters," says Nickelson, who voted in favor of a public safety raise in December, "The fact that that's the right number for police officers and firefighters in not evidence that that's the right number for every other city employee."
But That Much for Other City Workers May Be Too Much
And Nickelson questions the idea of increasing all city workers 13% more, no matter their job or current salary. "We have very highly compensated employees...at the top of our compensation pyramid who are making in the range of $150,000 a year. What sense does it make, from the city's perspective, to give those folks a raise that would amount to almost $20,000 a year?
And 13% for Everybody Could Be Unsustainable
"In the short term, we've got the cash to cover that," he says, adding that the annual cost of the raise will be about $8 million for non-public safety employees, "But in the intermediate and long term, if we commit to an annual $20 million plus annual personnel expenditure, we're going to have to find that money from somewhere and the two sources are either cutting some other expense or increasing revenue which means increasing taxes.
"It's a big decision and one that's going to cause the city problems in the long term if we go forward."
Nickelson, who is calling on a delay on the vote to study the proposal's financial ramifications, says that if the council moves ahead, he will vote no on the current measure.