Proposed budget has retired workers, Gulfport employees raising concerns

Proposed budget has retired workers, Gulfport employees raising concerns

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A budget proposal in Gulfport had retired city employees and other workers asking questions and raising concerns Tuesday.

"Any increase on this right now is too much of a burden to bear," said Retired Police Detective Charles Brodie.

The burden he's talking about is a proposed 25 percent increase on health insurance premiums for retired Gulfport City employees. City administrators said the hike is necessary since claims are more than contributions.

"We're looking at every area of the city where we're having either bleeding with employees leaving or cost over runs," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.

The explanation didn't stop retired employees from pleading their case.

"I question the raising of it of 25 percent," said Bodie. "I won't be able to handle that. There's other good things I need to be doing with that, but I'm not going to be able to do it as long as it's locked up paying for that amount in insurance."

Also part of the proposed budget, a 4.8 percent pay increase for police officers.

"We're probably losing more personnel on a competitive basis in the police department than we are in any other department," said Hewes.

But outside of the police department, the proposed budget includes a two percent raise, meaning everyone else working for the city, including firefighters, will get less than half the police officers' raise.

"Most of the citizens I spoke with said that it's not fair," said Gulfport City Council Member Ella Holmes- Hines. "With the fire department, I truly believe that what goes for one public safety must go for the other public safety."

Mayor Hewes said the items presented in the budget are just proposed right now and they are still up for debate. He hopes a final decision on the budget will come as early as next week.

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