UPDATE: Mobile mayor vetoes raise until all employees included

Mobile County
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MOBILE, AL (WKRG) — At Tuesday’s meeting, members of the Mobile City Council unanimously approved cost of living raises for all merit system city employees.

“We are all so pleased that we are able to provide this much deserved and long overdue raise,” Council Vice President Levon Manzie said. “These employees are the backbone of our city. We are hopeful this will help them know how much all their hard work is appreciated by us and the whole city.” 

A minor amendment to the proposed resolution approved by the council clarified contracted employees appointed by the mayor are not included in the legislation.

The mayor says more than 100 people will be excluded, including the assistant fire and assistant police chiefs.

“The administration said over 2,000 employees that are part of our merit system. And again, I hope the rest of the council supports this amendment so we can at least do this portion of it,” said councilmember Bess Rich during the meeting.

“These are people that are working just as hard as anybody else, and to say ‘oh it’s just a few we won’t give a raise to,’ We are fighting for all employees,” said Mayor Sandy Stimpson.

The disagreement stems from the lawsuit between the mayor and the council members. The mayor fired the city council communications officer, Marion Steinfelds, and the council re-hired her as a contract employee. 

“You see her over here working now, do y’all know how much money she’s making? Not one dime” said councilmember Fred Richardson during the meeting. 

“I believe this was a political statement,” said Mayor Stimpson.

The council says the amendment was necessary as a result of that category of employees being included in the ongoing litigation initiated by Mayor Stimpson.

“I’m not trying to stifle anyone from receiving an appropriate raise in salary, but we want to make certain that what we do isn’t going to harm us from the standpoint that we find ourselves in,” said Levon Manzie, the Vice President of the Mobile City Council.

The mayor and the city’s attorney disagrees with that. 

“We don’t think there’s no such authority under our law to do what was done,” said Mayor Stimpson.

Right after the approval, the mayor announced to the media he would not be approving the resolution for the raises. 

Mayor Sandy Stimpson says he will not approve a raise until every employee can get a raise. 

Mayor Stimpson released the following announcement: 

“Today the City Council, upon the advice of its attorney, refused to adopt a budget amendment that would have allowed me to grant a cost of living adjustment to all employees.

I believe that this was a political statement.

The City Council would have excluded from the adjustment some of the very talented and hardworking employees who were the most responsible for the financial success of the City over the last five years.

Three previous cost of living adjustments have been made in 2015 twice and in 2016 with no complaint by the Council or any attempt to divide our employees into a deserving and non-deserving class.

The City Council has attempted to amend our proposal.  There is no such authority in our law.  Following the Council’s changes to our proposal would risk any salary adjustments being completely ineffective – a risk I will not take.

But this fight is not over

I pledge to find a way, as quickly as possible, to reward our employees, all of them, for their hard work and financial restraint.

Sincerely,

William S. Stimpson

Mayor”

The City Council has released a statement after the mayor vetoed the raise: 

We are disappointed that despite the Council’s unanimous support for a cost of living raise for our merit system city employees, the Mayor has chosen this path. At his request, we approved the raise which would cover 99% of our rank and file employees. We hope the Mayor will reconsider his position and send it on to the Mobile Personnel Board for implementation.

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