published Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Chattanooga City Council rejects pay raise for city employees


by Cliff Hightower

A move to give pay increases to 56 full-time Chattanooga employees who did not get a raise this year died Tuesday night at the City Council.

Council members voted 6-3 against a one-time bonus for employees who were ineligible for 3 percent across-the-board pay hikes because their salaries already were at their maximum levels.

The council learned two weeks ago that some employees did not get the raises. Last week, city officials advised council members they could come up with a budget amendment to give raises to the employees.

The proposal was to divvy up $70,000 among the 56 employees.

"I think a one-time $70,000 allocation is the best decision," Councilman Andraé McGary said before the vote.

McGary said council members did not know certain employees would not get raises. He said that the council didn't know because the detail was in the "fine print" of the ordinance.

Dan Johnson, Mayor Ron Littlefield's chief of staff, argued that "nothing was hidden. There was no fine print."

Councilwoman Deborah Scott agreed.

"It always said what we passed," she said.

McGary, Councilwoman Carol Berz and Councilman Russell Gilbert voted for the pay raises. Council members Scott, Jack Benson, Sally Robinson, Peter Murphy, Pam Ladd and Manny Rico voted against.

guns and toys

  • photo
    John Martin, co-owner of Shooters Depot, speaks about handguns that use colored polymers in their construction that could give them the appearance of toys.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

Chattanooga police officials briefed the council Tuesday concerning guns that look like toys.

Murphy brought up concerns that some guns look too much like toys. He wants the City Council to approve a resolution asking the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to expedite rulemaking that would outlaw the manufacturing of such weapons.

The council discussed the issue but will not take any official action on it until next week's meeting.

Chattanooga police Sgt. Mark Smeltzer, a training officer, said police have legitimate concerns about the weapons because they make it harder for police to determine if a gun is real or not in tense situations.

Assistant Chief Tommy Kennedy also expressed concerns, saying there are fears children could play with them.

"Whoever would think we would see pink, green and blue guns?" he asked.

term limits

Poll
Should city council members be limited to two terms?

Scott also raised the possibility of term limits for council members. Three weeks ago, she helped draft an ordinance that would have set limits for council members to eight years and move the city election from March to November.

"There are statistics that show 67 percent of people favor term limits if it appears on the ballot," she said.

She is trying to get council approval to place the item on the March ballot as a amendment to the City Charter. Ladd said she would second putting it on the council agenda for a vote.

Murphy said he would put the ordinance on the agenda but did not say when. It is unclear how much support the items have.

"I don't think there's much interest in term limits," Rico said.

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