Council, Mayor debate pay raises for city employees

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland will push for pay raises for some city employees, but the raises may not be as large as some city leaders want.

Council member Edmund Ford Jr. wants to see entry level wages for city employees to be $15.50 per hour. That is in line with many national protesters calling for a living wage.

Ford's proposal would affect 420 of the city's 6,800 positions and cost the city about $1.4 million.

"When you look at a $680 million budget, that's a very small amount just to make sure we have equity and equality with salaries across the board," Ford said.

Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said Tuesday that pay increases are a priority for Strickland's upcoming budget.

However, McGowen said Strickland was looking to expand those pay increases to more than just entry level positions. He said Strickland wanted to ensure that employees in various departments were paid their market value.

"If we are going to be providing some increases in salary, we should be doing so to the best effect for the City of Memphis and making sure that we keep those quality employees around," McGowen said.

The COO said the city currently has employees in nearly every division that are being paid below their market value.

While Strickland is still looking at the details of his raise proposal, McGowen said he believes the ultimate cost to the city will be very similar to what Councilman Ford proposed.

"There's going to be a lot of commonality in what the council intends and what we intend to do," McGowen said. "The mayor has every intention to do what he can to adjust for market adjustments in this year's budget."

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