By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – Most city employees will see an increase in their paycheck this month, but not all of them.
In a break from traditional across-the-board raises, Houston’s Board of Aldermen voted 3-2 for merit raises for all but three fulltime employees last week. Part-time workers will also not see an increase in wages.
The vote was not without controversy, as District 4 Alderman Willie Mae McKinney said she felt all city employees should get raises and she said the three voting for it were not listening to her concerns. District 2 Alderman Shenia K. Jones voted with McKinney. District 1 Tony Uhiren, District 3 Alderman Frank Thomas and Alderman
At-Large Barry Springer voted for the merit raises.
“It’s not that I am against the raises, it’s just I think everybody should get one,” said McKinney. “Ya’ll three people control it and I don’t think that is fair.”
Thomas pointed out to McKinney she had her opportunity to present her views at Tuesday’s meeting and at a Nov. 13, workshop specifically called to address the issue of wages and salaries for the upcoming year.
“We discuss these issues and then we each vote,” said Uhiren. “There are a lot of businesses in this town that did not give raises this year at all.”
Springer said there was no conspiracy and he was a firm believer in merit raises.
“As the mayor has said, I also believe part-time workers have a part-time job at part-time pay,” said Springer. “I agree with that and I think this is fair.”
The City of Houston has 42 fulltime employees and 13 part-time workers.
McKinney said three fulltime employees will not get raises.
“I don’t think it is racial because those who aren’t getting raises are mixed,” said McKinney. “Like I said, I am for the raises, but I don’t like the way the other board members brushed me off.”
The vote also changed the ordinance setting the Houston Town Marshal’s salary. Houston Police Chief Billy Voyles will see his annual pay increase $1,122 to $38,522. State law requires the town marshal’s pay – an elected position — to be fixed and set by the board of mayor and aldermen.
The Houston mayor and board members will not get pay increases this year. The Mayor of Houston is paid 1,145.84 a month and wages and benefits total $19,483.84 annually. Houston aldermen are paid $300 a month and wages and benefits total $7,109.88 annually.
The merit raises approved by the board up the city’s budgeted wage and salaries $59,202.58. Total wages, salaries and benefits paid by the city in 2012 were $1,615,267.11. Budgeted wages, salaries and benefits for 2013 are $1,674,469.69.
The City of Houston, as will most municipalities in the area, will hold elections for mayor and aldermen this spring.