Gautier employees could see fatter paychecks

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - At a time when jobs are hard to come by and cities are laying off workers more and more every day, you don't hear much about pay raises. But in the city of Gautier, leaders are working to give their employees more money in the upcoming budget.

From the brave people who fight fires, to those women and men who keep Gautier clean, the 147 Gautier employees could soon be bringing home fatter paychecks.

"During these times, everyone needs raises because everything is so high right now," employee Valerie Stanton said.

"Nowadays, it takes two people to even get by as it is. It is hard enough at that, so it is good get a raise," employee Cindy Russell said.

Mayor Tommy Fortenberry says the city has been crunching budget numbers to give employees a three percent bump in pay across the board.

"Gautier's employees have not had a raise since 2007," Fortenberry said. "That is what our goal is this year is to try to find creative financing."

And that creative financing could mean pulling money from miscellaneous projects and reducing spending.

"We have to take long hard looks at everything that is being spent and everything that is being done, from cell phone to lawnmowers. It may only be $500 here and $500 there, but it starts adding up," the mayor said.

The proposal for employee raises comes just a year after the city had to cut 12 staff members in order to avoid a budget deficit.

"Last year, we went through one spectrum to the next trying to figure the budget out. This year, the mayor and council has looked at the budget line item by line item."

Fire Chief Ray Frair hopes the salary boost happens for his 30 member team because, he said, they needed it more than ever.

"As we move forward with the budget, once it is finalized and accepted and the pay raises are there, I think it will be a great sigh of relief to our employees," Frair said.

City Manager Sidney Runnels said Gautier will hold a public hearing on the budget and leaders will vote next month. 

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