JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Compensating city employees was among the items Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry highlighted Tuesday in his $1.4 billion budget proposal.
The mayor discussed pay raises for first responders and civilian employees while presenting his proposed budget during to the Jacksonville City Council and members of the city’s workforce who attended Tuesday morning’s meeting.
There are two sets of pay increases programmed into Curry’s spending plan: contractual raises negotiated as part of the city’s contracts with its unionized workforces and a separate set of installments paid for by federal pandemic funds.
The negotiated pay bumps, which range from 3- to nearly 5-percent increases, are for members of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, as well as other employees who work under collective bargaining agreements.
“These agreements properly invest in our people and reward them for keeping this government running through a pandemic in the face of unknowns and support them on a hard road ahead and continuing our path to recovery,” Curry said Tuesday.
The second set of pay increases are part of what the mayor’s staff described as “premium pay.” These $2,500 payments, which would be awarded to all 8,000 city employees, are funded by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan spending bill.
Employees would have additional $2,500 installments coming to them next year.
Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said the “premium pay” payments are being proposed as a way to compensate city employees, who worked throughout the pandemic without pay increases and after seeing their employment contracts placed on hold.
“I believe they’ve earned it,” Curry said. “They’ve worked their butts off in the pandemic. Many have decades of work (experience). I’m confident that the deal will be ratified, and that (City Council members) will be agreeable to this.”
News4Jax spoke with City Council President Sam Newby, asking whether he thought the public would be on board with the raises. While he acknowledged the issue might generate some debate, he believes the pay increases will ultimately pass.
“I think Council will support it,” Newby told News4Jax. “Listen, I think every day when they put their lives on the line, I think they will support it and I am in support of it.”
Both sets of pay increases are subject to approval of the Council, which is expected to take up the mayor’s budget by the end of September.