SHREVEPORT, La. - It's a big win for the estimated 2,000 City of Shreveport employees, But some on the city council wonder at what cost.
The council approved a series of budget amendments that will initially help fund across-the-board pay raises of 13% for all city employees.
The votes were right down party lines. The five Democrats voted for Mayor Adrian Perkins' plan, while the two Republicans voted no.
"I'm super excited for our city employees," Perkins said. "I'm out there every day with our first responders, with our water and sewage employees. This is something that is well deserved and I'm so happy that we were able to get this legislation passed today."
Councilman John Nickelson had urged the council to delay the votes so that the city could do a compensation study. He said that could determine how much more pay should go to non-public safety employees.
"So that we can make sure that we don't write checks that future councils and administrations won't be able to cover," Nickelson told his colleagues.
Nickelson warned that the across the board raises will swell the city's payroll by nearly $21 million annually. That figure came from the city's internal auditor. Nickelson said the expense can not be sustained without raising taxes or cutting the budget in future years.
Nickelson and fellow Republican Grayson Boucher sponsored a separate ordinance to give only police and fire personnel 13% raises, while raises for non-public safety workers are studied. It was seen as a symbolic measure that failed, with no Democrats voting for it.
American Rescue Plan funds, along with money from the city's reserve are also expected to help fund the new raises for the first couple of years.