In a year where Metro Nashville’s rank and file workers learned they would not get promised cost of living increases, Nashville Mayor David Briley gave merit raises to 20 members of his own staff, WSMV reported.
Two of the mayor’s staff received 6 percent increases.
One Briley staffer, Chief Strategy Officer Brian Kelsey, got a $7,178 raise, increasing his salary to $126,824. Briley also gave merit-based raises to department heads.
Briley’s decision to reverse the cost of living adjustments – COLAs – for Metro employees created a lot of controversy.
Nashville Fire Chief Will Swann refused his 2.5 percent pay increase, choosing to pass the Open Range money to 19 administrators under him.
Briley said that although city workers would not get cost of living adjustments this year, 71 percent of the city’s work force could expect their paychecks to increase during the coming year. Workers can get what are called step increases.
Metro Nashville’s being strapped for cash did not stop Briley from compiling a wish list of expensive projects like a $125 million floodwall for downtown, The Tennessee Star reported. Police officers and firefighters wanted the raises they were promised to help with the cost of living, WSMV reported. They were promised three years’ worth of raises and received a round last year.
Even with Nashville adding a skyfull of skyscrapers, it faced a $34 million revenue shortfall this year. Most of the new money has gone to debt service to pay for pretty and shiny projects like the Sounds baseball stadium and the convention center, plus more conventional needs like school improvements. Borrowing costs have increased about $100 million in the last five years.
Metro Council in June narrowly avoided a 50-cent property tax increase, Nashville Business Journal reported. The $2.23 billion budget did not fully fund the school system’s requests.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.