286 Vicksburg employees see raises totaling $485,000

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005

[1/19/05]About half of the city’s 526 full-time employees received raises this month under the merit-based pay system initiated three years ago.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the increases Tuesday that total $485,000 to be spread among 286 employees other than police and firefighters. The average is $1,760 per year.

Police officers and firefighters also receive merit-based pay raises, but those are approved separately from the rank-and-file municipal workers because police and firefighters are under a Civil Service system.

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Raises ranged from 1 percent to 15 percent and averaged 6 percent, said Lamar Horton, director of human resources for the city.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said the merit-based system he started during the first year of his term has improved productivity by holding employees accountable.

“Those who don’t deserve raises don’t get them and those who do, I hope, will be celebrating,” Leyens said.

Laborers, who are at the lower end of the city’s payroll scale, also received increases in base salaries. The changes takes every laborer from $6.50 per hour to $7 after one year of employment. Horton said the merit pay increase will bring city employees’ pay to levels normal in private sector jobs.

“It’s allowed us to reward the truly good performers, to attract good, quality employees and to retain our employees,” Horton said.

Pay increases were budgeted in the current $31 million spending plan approved in September. About $19.5 million of the total is payroll.

The raises included department and division heads, but exclude the three elected officials whose pay is set by ordinance. The mayor and aldermen awarded themselves raises in 2002 which included automatic 5 percent increases during the second and third years of the administration.

Currently, the mayor is paid $73,500 and each alderman $58,800. Those amounts will remain the same until 2006 if the current plan is unchanged by the administration that will be elected this summer.

In other matters the city board:

Approved board meeting minutes from Dec. 23 and Jan. 4.

Approved a $100,000 increase to the contract for the installation of fire hydrants in the South Ward annexed areas. The increase is for replacing some water lines that are too small to provide an adequate supply for firefighters.

Approved paying $1,860 to print 500 program books for the 2005 Mississippi Firefighters and Fire Chiefs Conference at the Vicksburg Convention Center in June.

Approved payment of $2,413 for the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport.

Approved a 60-day extension for the House of Peace Worship Church for completion of the addition to the new church building on Grove Street.

Approved a $670 advertisement in The Vicksburg Post special section celebrating Black History Month.

Approved a sidewalk and landscape variance for the new Sol Azteca Restaurant at 101 Thalweg Drive.

Entered into an agreement with Warren County to apply for a Homeland Security Grant on behalf of the county. Supervisors agreed to fund any administration cost for the grant. City officials agreed to amend the city’s grant application to include the county because county officials missed the deadline to apply for the funds.

Allocated $620 for food, supplies and entertainment expenses for a Valentine’s Dance for 14- to 18-year-olds from 8 until 11 p.m. Feb. 11 at Jackson Street Community Center. The dance is free.

Approved $325 to cover the entry fee and supplies for a float in the Mardi Gras Parade at 2 p.m. Feb. 5 along Washington Street in downtown.

Approved the claims docket.

The City Board will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday at City Hall Annex.