The decision to give some employees raises while increasing City of Summerville utility bills encountered some opposition.
Two city councilmen refused to vote for a $15.6 million budget that spreads pay raises to employees while passing higher utility and garbage fees to customers.
"I didn't think this was a good time to do a pay raise," Councilman Joe Money Jr., said about his decision to vote against the budget.
Despite dips or swings in the economy, the city council created a plan that gives employees automatic pay raises annually. Some, like Councilman Money, believe wage hikes should only be given if money is left over.
"Instead of . . . [us] having to work around [the compensation plan], I would like to have everything else [first] and then work [the pay raises] in."
The second dissenter was Councilman David Ford.
"I've been against the compensation plan from the beginning," Ford said.
Ford has looked over the compensation plan and believes parts of it to be unfair.
"I said this system can't be right," Councilman Ford said.
For example, Police Chief Stan Mosley received a $5,000 raise when the council changed his title to Public Safety Director and also put him in charge of the fire department. He's also getting another raise under the compensation plan.
Most of his patrolmen get nothing.
"I don't really understand a lot of it. . . "Councilman Ford said. "Stan gets a raise, but his officers don't?"
The councilman and the police chief say they don't understand exactly how the plan works. Some people's salaries are frozen while others aren't.
"I disagree with it myself," Chief Mosley said. "I can't see me taking anything if my patrol guys didn't get a raise."
GIVE TO OFFICERS
The chief asked the city to remove his salary increase and distribute it among the officers.
"I don't understand the plan and how it works," Chief Mosley said. ". . . I think my officers deserve a cost of living raise."
But the entry level police officers are making too much, according to the compensation plan.
While the plan calls for automatic, yearly pay raises, it will take time for everyone's pay to adjust to the scale, City Manager Russell Thompson said.
When the council approved the plan, some were making more than their pay grade allowed. The patrolman category is one example.
The scale says a patrolman should make $14.30 an hour. However, that is not the case. Patrolmen currently make $16.80 an hour.
The cost of living adjustment is added to the $14.30 an hour rate. Once that catches up to the $16.80 an hour rate, then policemen will see a raise, Thompson said about the city council's plan.
But for a 1.25-percent cost of living raise to catch up with the $16.80 rate, it will take about 15 years.
To pay for these and other expenses, the city will increase water, sewer and garbage fees.
Garbage rates are going from $9.50 per month to $10.50. Seniors and those on disability won't pay the increased cost.
The City of Summerville says it is going up on city residents an average of $2.29 a month on increased water rates and garbage fees.
The city gave a 4.1 percent increase on inside residential customers. The first 3,000 gallons of water presently costs city water customers $14.50.
The city’s new charge will be $15.10 for 3,000 gallons of water and subsequently a 20 cent per thousand additional charge.
The city production cost went up 20 cents and the city manager said if they do not go up on the price 20 cents, then there would be a 20 cent loss profit for every 1,000 gallons of water that are sold.
Outside rates for the first 3,000 gallons will be $19.94.
The city has $2.7 million sitting in a bank.