I share your commitment to ensuring all city employees are fairly compensated. But as the attached memorandum prepared by our internal auditor shows, a thirteen percent pay raise across the board is not sustainable without substantial non-personnel budget cuts or additional revenue. Mayor Perkins has repeatedly cautioned us not to make unfunded promises to the thousands of employees who devote their professional lives to the business of the city. If we fail to heed that advice, we will leave the city’s finances no better than we found them in 2018 – a year in which the city’s general fund closed with a negative operating reserve.
One of my first controversial votes as a member of this Council was cast in support of increasing sanitation workers’ compensation. More recently I supported Mayor Perkins’ initiative to raise the minimum wage for all city workers to $13 per hour. I thought both those initiatives were fair and in the city’s interest. But I cannot support an across the board compensation increase that could do long-term damage to our city – particularly an increase which would apply even to our most highly compensated unclassified employees.
Over five years the fiscal impact of this decision exceeds $100 million according to Internal Audit’s analysis, and once raises are given, they cannot be taken back. Please consider delaying the decision to give the administration the time necessary to conduct a compensation study and to propose a funding mechanism for any non-public safety compensation increases the study supports. That is the only responsible path forward.
I respect each of you, and I don’t ever want politics to get in the way of doing what’s right for Shreveport. Let’s continue working together for the common good of our city and the nearly two hundred thousand people we collectively represent. My hand will remain extended in friendship and collaboration for the balance of our time together on the Council. – Councilman John Nickelson – District C