GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - For the first time in seven years, city employees in Gulfport will be getting a bigger paycheck. This, after a special city council meeting was called Tuesday to review the budget for the next fiscal year.
Mayor Billy Hewes is seeing his first balanced budget without having to make personnel cuts since taking office. In fact, it's the first time this has happened since 2009.
"We thought that it was time to tighten our belts and do something for our employees," said Hewes. "We sat down with our city council president and our comptroller and said, look, let's see if we can get a little bit of relief," said Hewes.
That relief came in the form of a proposal to offer a $1000 cost of living increase to each employee. With the city employing around 600, this means a good bit of money. Hewes said it's all possible because of two things. One, a number of departments had historic surpluses this year. And, city leaders anticipate a growth in sales taxes.
The vote went through unanimously. Employees, like Natasha Tate, are grateful.
"It's going to make a huge difference, yes," said Tate.
After working for the city for the last decade, she's gotten used to not receiving a pay raise.
"We just kind of don't ask about it. We already know how things are going to go," said Tate.
But, this year, she is excited to have a little extra to help her and her three boys.
"It's going to help us out so much with the cost of living. With gas and groceries and everything going up, so it's going to be very beneficial," said Tate.
It will now be up to the discretion of each department head to allocate the cost of living adjustment. The increase will be paid over the course of 26 payments throughout the year.