Metro Nashville’s rank and file workers may receive a cost-of-living raise that the city has long promised but failed to deliver after a contentious budget process last year.
Nashville Mayor David Briley on Monday announced a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 3 percent for all Metro employees in FY 2020, starting with the new budget on July 1.
“After a year when we had to put out a tight budget – which was a disappointment to me – I am proud to say that we can now give Metro employees the cost-of-living adjustment they deserve,” Briley said. “I would like all the men and women who work for our city to know that I deeply appreciate everything they do for residents throughout Nashville and Davidson County.”
Briley said he will recommend funding step and open-range increases in the budget he will submit to Metro Council by May 1.
If the rank and file employees do receive the COLA, they will be playing catch-up with Briley’s inner circle. The Tennessee Star reported last September that Briley gave merit raises to 20 members of his own staff. Two of the mayor’s staff received 6 percent increases.
Briley said in his press release that the pending COLA allocations are due to his working closely with the Finance Department and other Metro departments to control expenses.
Metro Nashville Police officers are writing fewer traffic tickets, and the city loses about $50,000 a month because of it, according to WSMV.
A police union leader said the decline in tickets is due to lowered morale from the city’s reneging on the promised cost of living adjustments and fear of investigations and prosecution if a shooting happens.
SEIU Local 205, a public employee union, issued a statement saying it was pleased with the mayor’s announcement, WSMV said.
“We are very pleased to see the announcement from Mayor’s Briley that he will restore the cost of living adjustments for Metro employees and we look forward to working with him to make sure they are approved by the Council. Metro employees are working hard every day to keep up with the demands on our growing city and we thank Mayor Briley for hearing their concerns for making them a priority in this year’s budget.”
SEIU Local 205 is holding a series of roundtable discussions on the city’s revenue problems in the light of rapid population growth of 17 percent in the past decade.
At a discussion earlier this month, workers talked about how budget shortfalls are affecting their work, including one worker at the Department of Emergency Communications, who said some call takers are working 12-16 hour days and how staff are burning out.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.