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Video: Councilmen Rescind Pay Raises for Columbus Employees

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — The Columbus city council has decided to rescind pay raises for all city employees.

Right after Columbus Mayor Robert Smith announced he wouldn’t take a $10,000 pay raise, the council decided no city employees would get them. It’s a change from recent meetings.

“The city employees deserve a raise, are entitled to a raise. It’s a hard thing to go about and do,” said Ward 6 councilman, Bill Gavin.

But why the change of heart?

“I’m sure most of the councilmen, like myself, had in their mind they wanted to give the employees a raise,” Gavin said. “They really did. But sometimes you have to really stop and look at the numbers, and see if you can make this work.”

Gavin says since the city is facing a deficit, it’s just not the right time to give them now.

The raises added up to about $440,000, and city leaders say they would’ve had to raise taxes to cover the cost.

Mayor Smith says it’s been at least three years since all employees got pay raises.

“Maybe next year, or the year after,” Smith said. “From a financial standpoint, we’ll be in a better situation than what we’re in now, and then we’ll go back to the three percent, or whatever the case may be.”

Smith says despite rumors, the city isn’t broke, but they’re not where they want to be.

“We have around $6 million in just the regular general fund, and we have about $1.1 in the reserve,” he said.

Broke or not, Gavin says there needs to be a good plan to make the raises happen.

“We need a long term plan, financial plan, that we can go forward and put those raises into effect for those folks,” he said.

Smith says the council has until September 15 to finalize the budget, but he expects to have the final budget vote at Thursday’s special meeting at city hall.