City green lights raises for public safety employees

Posted at 8:47 PM, May 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-08 21:20:45-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Public safety employees have not had a raise in five years.

"This is during one of the most difficult economic times we've seen since the depression,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.

Wednesday, Mayor Jones announced two percent pay raises for all city employees, with the police and fire departments getting more money as part of the step-salary increases based on their years of service and/or their rank in the department.

“They're the ones that protect our lives and our property,” said Jones.

The Mayor now supports the $1.4 million increase that wasn`t originally part of his proposed budget he sent to City Council two months ago.

"We appreciate all that council has done.  This is a part of the process.  We proposed a budget.  It is discussed by the Council.  The public has the opportunity to dive into it,” said Jones.

But some question whether the Mayor is now taking credit for the council`s hard work. They spent several days crunching the numbers, like on Monday night during a 13-hour budget work session.

“No, I don't think so, and I will give him credit,” said Chris Hilbert, 3rd District City Councilman.  “He and his staff are working out trying to find the funding for this.”

The funding will come out of the police and fire department budgets.  They will absorb the costs by not filling vacant positions and managing overtime spending.

"We were assured that there would not be a shortage in service,” said Hilbert. “If there is any question, I think we need to revisit this as far as where these cuts are coming from because that's the one thing we cannot have.”

"I think the thing we have to remember is regardless of how it happened, it's happening and that's the good news, is that the police and firefighters will be getting the Step Increases,” said Charles Samuels, City Council President.

City Council will vote on the amended City budget on May 28.