Joe P. Asher
The Cumberland City Council opted to freeze wages for city employees during a meeting on Tuesday. Mayor Carl Hatfield advised the council of his plan.
“I have my intentions of raising some pay when and if we get a budget started,” said Hatfield. “We’ve got some key personnel that are really coming through for this city. The only way we can continue to progress is to depend on the people who can do that work. To keep those people we have to pay them.”
Hatfield proposed an across the board pay increase for all city employees. Employees making $7.20 to $9 per hour would get a 3 percent increase, those making from $9 to $11 would get a 2 percent increase, and anyone making over $11 per hour would receive a 1 percent increase in wages.
“That varies anywhere from 24 cents to 18 cents an hour pay increase for those people,” said Hatfield.
Council member Carolyn Elliott did not agree with the proposal.
“I totally disagree with giving an across the board raise at this time,” said Elliot. “The mines have just closed. Coal severance tax is going to be down. We have people going to leave the area. We have priorities in the city as far as things that need to be done, like sending people for training and etc. I honestly feel like we need to sit and look at the budget — our income versus our outcome — before we establish another pay raise.”
According to council member Charles Raleigh, the time is not right for pay increases.
“As much as I’d love to give every employee a raise, there’s just no way we can afford it,” said Raleigh. “You look at the time we’re living in and what just happened with the coal mines. That coal severance money is going to hit rock bottom. It’s not that the people aren’t worth it, but some of them have not even got past their probation period and you’re already talking about raises. I just don’t see how we can afford it period.”
Council member David Dixon made the motion during his comments.
“I make a motion to freeze all hourly wages for employees on the city of Cumberland payroll effective Jan. 8, 2013,” said Dixon.
The motion was passed by roll call vote with no opposition from the panel.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org