Pay raise for city employees a good start; more could be done
Published 6:19 pm Monday, July 1, 2019
In a recent issue of The Vicksburg Post, you report that Mayor Flaggs is thinking about a pay raise for city employees. That is commendable as far as it goes.
I have lived in five states before moving to Mississippi, have traveled to locations in most of the rest and have visited many foreign countries. Vicksburg is generally very well maintained and city services are responsive compared to many other locations.
The problem is that the federal minimum wage has seriously lagged behind inflation. I will probably die before the dinosaurs in Congress toddle off into the Great Beyond, so I don’t see any change in the cards anytime soon at the federal level. In the meantime, other locations in the country have taken unilateral actions to raise wage levels
So, what would it cost for the city of Vicksburg to be progressive and raise wages of city employees to a living wage? Other parts of the country have raised the minimum to $12 an hour. That is sometimes done in increments over time.
Some major urban areas have gone much higher because of high costs of living.
City employees are local residents who spend money locally, so the money tends to stay in circulation in the local economy. Such things usually cause an increase in the tax rate, although property values have gone up with inflation. Voters in other areas have been receptive to tax raises for good purposes. We seem to be raising taxes for purposes such as a Sports Complex, but employee pay continues to lag behind inflation.
It is not a question of whether we can afford to raise pay, it is more of question of whether we can afford not to.
Fred E. Camfield