HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Thursday night at the Huntsville City Council meeting, salaries were the name of the game.
The council changed some of the rules, namely, the city-wide pay schedule and how much the office of the mayor makes.
City council approved a roughly $40,000 increase (from $132,500 to $175,926.40) for the office of mayor starting in November 2020.
It’s unclear if Mayor Tommy Battle will benefit, because the office for mayor is up in the 2020 election.
The city council also stood to get raises as a result of the mayoral pay bump, but voted to separate their pay from the mayor’s.
It’s a decision that impacts the salaries of 2,061 full-time employees.
Thursday, the Huntsville City Council voted to alter the salary schedule beginning Oct. 7, 2019.
In the long run, city employees could earn more per year.
In the short term, most employees will see a pay bump in October. However, their annual salary increases will go down.
The schedule is broken down by “grades” and “steps."
City positions are each assigned a pay grade, which determines the starting salary of the employee.
Each year, if authorized, the employee advances a “step" in that “grade.” This means a higher annual salary.
The new schedule raises the available number of steps for employees if they work for the city longer.
The ordinance does not go into effect until Oct. 7, 2019.
Employees will either keep their grade and step location, or it will change to the nearest, lowest level that still results in an increased salary.
The end result for both scenarios will be an increased salary in October.
The nature of the increase varies widely on a case by case basis.
No salaries are going down, but the lowest level earners salaries will remain the same.
If an employee maxed out all steps in his or her grade, the new schedule will result in anywhere from $5,824 to $8,840 more per year upon reaching the final step in that grade.
However, it reduces the annual salary increase (or step) for employees year over year if they remain in the same grade.
The money made or lost over the length of a career as a result of the step decreases varies case by case.
The anniversary date (or the day when employees move up a step) does not change.
City spokeswoman Kelly Schrimsher said the ordinance will cost the city roughly $1.9 million to reset the salaries in October.
Council President Devyn Keith proposed the change, and said it will provide incentive for employees to stay with the city longer.
The council voted 4-1 to approve the measure, with District 4 Councilman Bill Kling being the lone dissenter.
Multiple Huntsville Fire and Rescue Firefighters spoke at the meeting, and said they had concerns the decreased annual increases would cost them money in the long run.
Capt. Troy Graves said the ordinance will take money away from younger firefighters, and ultimately hurt recruiting.
“It’s literally taking money from the younger guys just to give it to the older guys. It’s not right,” he said.
City Administrator John Hamilton said it’s possible, but the fire fighters’ pensions do to stand to benefit.
The city council discussed potentially adding benefits for first responders, but nothing was ironed out.