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Memphis City Council votes no pay raises for first responders and laborers as a plan is sketched for citywide face mask ordinance

While there are no raises in the City of Memphis, there are also no layoffs in Mayor Strickland's budget proposal.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis City Council is in the middle of its annual budget process.

Limited funds for city worker wages are now compounded by disruptive circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis.

That's made for some tough decisions and tension for city leaders; like paying city first responders and laborers and keeping residents safe during an historic moment.

Making history, for better or worse is nothing new for Memphis neither is empasse during contract negotiations.

Of course this year their will be no raises, but there are also no layoffs in the Mayor's budget proposal.

Tuesday, the Council was the deciding factor between Mayor Jim Strickland's administration and the union leaders.

This was it, the last chance at bargaining for a raise in the 2020 budget.

Representatives from fire, police, skilled laborers and and animal control and others all admitted they knew what we knew weeks ago; COVID-19 has blown the budget and raises were not only improbable but impossible.

But they aren't walking away with nothing.. City workers will see extra money on their checks.

A vacation buy back and hazard pay program will deliver a fourth of each employee's vacation time since paid time off was frozen during the crisis.

The Council approved $7.5 million from CARES Act funding for fiscal year 2020 from June to December.

Thomas Malone of the Memphis Firefighters Association was the first to express thanks and acknowledge the city's current circumstances, but he said these first responders are due more.

"We understand the situation that the City is in with this COVID, but we also understand that our offer of 3% in January of 2021 was not a bamboozle offer. It was something that we thought out long and hard based on the fact that we knew the city was going to be at a bad situation," said Malone.

The 2nd reading of the mask ordinance was also heard Tuesday night.. which was voted to it's next reading to happen at the next Council meeting.