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Elected officials in North Little Rock, the city's uniformed firefighters and most of its city employees will receive pay raises thanks to a series of six resolutions council members approved Monday evening without dissent.

Elected officials and nonuniformed employees will begin receiving a 2.5% increase on their paychecks starting June 1. Among the resolutions was one to amend the 2019 budget to account for the $418,866 increase for the raises.

Uniformed firefighters, under a new, three-year union contract among legislation approved Monday, will receive 3% increases, retroactive to Jan. 12, according to the legislation. Separate budget legislation put the cost for the firefighters' pay bump at an additional $749,488.

All resolutions passed 7-0, with Council Member Maurice Taylor absent.

The only discussion on the pay increases concerned an amendment to the Fire Department budget to exclude the city's fire marshal, battalion chiefs, assistant fire chief and the fire chief from being part of the 3% raise that the firefighters' union negotiated with Mayor Joe Smith. Instead, they are part of the group of employees, which includes the police chief and assistant police chiefs, that will receive the 2.5% raise.

Both John Pflasterer, the city fire marshal, and Phil Pounders, a battalion chief, spoke to the council in opposition to the amendment excluding their group from the 3% raises going to the rest of the Fire Department. Pflasterer said that Fire Department captains who work overtime will make more than their battalion chiefs and that incentives to rise to battalion chief will be diluted by the pay disparity.

"This is all about the future of the Fire Department, not just for us here tonight," he said.

Smith told the council that he was against making any changes on short notice after having lengthy negotiations with the firefighters' union to reach the new contract terms.

"I'll be more than happy to sit down with you," Smith said to Pflasterer and Pounders. "The only thing that's different is your salary increase. We can always change it."

Addressing the City Council, Smith said it was "too tough to come in here an hour ahead of time" and make such a change.

"I would prefer to leave it alone and work on it in the next 30 days," he said.

Increases in the pay scales for uniformed police officers were included in this year's budget, approved by the City Council in December, so police aren't part of the new pay raises. Raises for other city employees and elected officials weren't part of the 2019 budget after 2.2% raises for all had taken effect in August.

Smith said last week that the raises were warranted because North Little Rock is in "as good of financial shape" as ever, with a projected $21 million to be its reserves by year's end, and the need to retain its employees by being competitive in the job market. City Finance Director Karen Scott, for example, whose pay would have been increasing to $112,629.93 annually with the new raise, is leaving to become chief financial officer for Benton Utilities in Benton. Scott's last day is Friday.

New annual salaries for the city's three full-time elected officials are: Mayor Smith, $128,220.26; City Attorney Amy Fields, $108,917.95; and City Clerk-Treasurer Diane Whitbey, $75,863.53. City Council members, considered as part-time employees, will have their pay raised to $11,336.03 annually, with the 2.5% increase.

Police Chief Mike Davis and Fire Chief Gerald Tucker will be paid $107,392.24 each under the new pay scale. Danny Bradley, the mayor's chief of staff, will be paid $112,629.93. Bradley and Scott are the highest paid city employees behind the mayor.

Metro on 05/14/2019

Print Headline: North Little Rock officials, firefighters, others to get raises

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