Top City Administrators Got Raises amid Employee Pay Cuts

Top City Administrators Got Raises amid Employee Pay Cuts

You paid for secret pay raises given to a select group of Memphis city employees. While most city employees took pay cuts, a handful of Mayor A C Wharton's top staffers got salary increases.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - You paid for secret pay raises given to a select group of Memphis city employees. While most city employees took pay cuts, a handful of Mayor A C Wharton's top staffers got salary increases.

Memphis is broke. For the past two years employees took pay cuts. There have been salary and hiring freezes, yet that didn't stop certain employees from getting a bump in pay.

"It's just not fair. If we want to be fair and transparent, let's call a spade a spade," said Councilwoman Janice Fullilove.

City employees took a 4.6 percent pay cut in 2011, but since then, according to city documents, dozens of employees' salaries increased. It was called a salary review instead of a raise.

For example, Rebecca Coleman, the Memphis Animal Shelter Medical Director, went from making $81,643 to $87,400.

Both John Cameron, the City Engineer, and General Services Director Martha Lott were bumped from $115,757 to $118,879.

Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom went from $118,879 to $120,180.

Some got even larger raises. After a salary review, Michael Freeman, Metro Alarm Administrator, went from being paid $63,319 to $70,962.

Jim Kovarik, Manager of the Workforce Investment Network, jumped from $62,000 to $87,000. That's a $25,000 bump in pay.

"I didn't realize there were people in the same jobs getting salary increases," stated Councilman Jim Strickland. He just learned about the pay increases, along with Mike Williams from the Memphis Police Association.

"It made me mad when I first saw it because we've been working at a 4.6 salary reduction now for almost two years," Williams said.

The city's Chief Administrative Officer, George Little, says there are reasons for the increases, whether it was discovered there was race or gender inequity in pay, or employees took on added responsibilities.

Williams is skeptical.

"When you're in an appointed position or you're placed in an appointed position, I guess you serve at the whim and the pleasure of the mayor - and he is who actually appoints you to be in that position, so if he wants a career review or a job description review, then they in fact do that."

The bottom line is, certain employees are bringing home bigger pay checks and you're paying for it.

"It's a raise, whether you call it a review or a raise, it was a raise and it should not have been done," stated Fullilove.

Council members say they plan to ask the administration questions about these secret raises. It's expected to come up in budget hearings, which are now underway.

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