17 city department heads get 2-5 percent pay raises|[02/28/07]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Raises for 17 City of Vicksburg department heads were approved in a special called board meeting Tuesday.

The raises come a month after merit pay raises for most city employees were approved in January by Mayor Laurence Leyens and the city’s two aldermen.

&#8220They look at the budget and decide what they can allocate of the total salary budget,” said Human Resources Director Lamar Horton.

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He said the Board of Mayor and Aldermen creates a pool for each department and the raises usually range from 2 to 10 percent.

&#8220Each department has some to work with,” he said.

Leyens said most of the department head increases were about 2 percent this time. Others, however were higher – up to 5 percent.

&#8220We made a few adjustments for some we thought were underpaid for what they do,” Horton said.

Strategic Planner Paul Rogers was the only department head who didn’t receive an increase. When last year’s merit-based pay raises were offered, Rogers didn’t qualify because he was said to be paid on &#8220more of a contract scenario.” Rogers remains the city’s highest-paid employee at about $150,000 per year.

For its overall budget, the city plans to spend $27.3 million in the 12 months that started Oct. 1, up $100,000 from the previous year. Spending on salaries, however, was projected to rise by $500,000 to $19.9 million or a record 73 percent of the total budget.

In 2002, city officials set their own pay at $70,000 for the mayor, which was a $13,486 raise, and $56,000 for the aldermen, which was a $10,500 raise.

That same ordinance provides for a 5 percent raise for elected officials at the beginning of the second and third years of each new administration. If unchanged, the aldermen will be paid $71,472 a year and the mayor $89,340 by 2012.

Also in the called meeting, Leyens was authorized to sign a closeout package for American Dream Downpayment Initiative grant funds.

Leyens said $10,000 of the federal funding, meant to assist first-time homebuyers in purchasing single-family homes by providing downpayment, closing costs and rehabilitation, has to be paid back. The city was able to divvy out $240,000, but is required to pay back what wasn’t given to homebuyers. Leyens said the city will apply for the funds again this year.