More money for city workers?

Published 12:32 am Tuesday, August 28, 2007

NATCHEZ — Most department heads asked for raises for their employees at Monday’s city budget session.

Public Works Director Eric Smith asked for a 25 cent-per-hour raise for all his employees, and Traffic Director Rick Freeman asked for a 4.5 percent raise for his four employees.

Recreation Director Ralph Tedder was the most emphatic about obtaining a raise for his employees.

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“I’m asking for no increase in this budget,” Tedder said. “I’m turning in a balanced budget.”

Tedder said he and his employees had cut back where they could. His employees worked hard, he said.

“I’m trying to do something for the employees, some of whom are underpaid,” he said.

Tedder also expressed concern for the long-term goals of the recreation department.

Much of the infrastructure is old and needs replacing, he said.

Most requests didn’t vary much, if any, from last year’s budget.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said she was unsure what the long-term effect would be if the city granted the raises. She said she was concerned the departments might be selling themselves short.

“(If we grant raises), the raises are going to stay, and the lines (expenses) they want to cut might come up again,” Mathis said.

Other departments requested funding for special projects.

Alderman David Massey said that although the city might have to turn them down now, funding might come along soon.

When the two promised casinos and other revenue-generating projects, such as new hotels, started operating, the city would have significantly more revenue to distribute, he said.

The board did not reach a decision Monday night on the proposed budget requests.