Essential worker pay raises, raise budget concerns


Augusta,Ga (WJBF) – At the start of this year, Augusta City budget was in balance that’s likely to change as commissioners approving 2.6 million dollars in hazardous pay for hundreds of city workers.

The administrators recommendation was $3.33 an hour pay raise for front line city employees, but on a six to four vote Augusta commissioners approved a $5.00 an hour raise to stay in place until the June 6th.

“I don’t think any amount of money that you were going to vote on for that was going to be satisfactory to fifty percent of the people everybody had a different number in mind,” said Commissioner John Clarke.

Other commissioners supported the administrators smaller recommendation because of the impact on the city budget.

“We’re not sure where the tax rolls are going to end up for the year. We’ve never seen anything like this where you have businesses shut down. Its one thing to have a slow economy but when your economy totally stops,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett.

But city leaders are saying the pay raises will not fall on the backs of local taxpayers thanks to the Federal Government’s coronavirus response.

“Many of these expenditures like this are going to be reimburseable through the relief fund when we look at the stimulus bill that’s coming down,” said Mayor Hardie Davis.

I’m confident that we are going to be reimbursed from the Care Act on it,” said Commissioner Clarke.

The federal government maybe already helping. Last year, Augusta received a million and a half dollar check from FEMA as part of the reimbursement for the city’s ice storm cleanup costs.

“It is a pool of funding that would be available to cover whatever is done in the interim. Until that time, these monies are reimbursed to us,” said Finance Director Donna Williams.

City leaders not only have to be concerned if they will be reimbursed for these essential employee pay raises but when. Remember the ice storm was six years ago.

In Augusta, George Eskola WJBF NewsChannel six,

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