GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A $12,813.55 pay raise to Gulfport Public Information Officer Chris Vignes has struck a nerve with some in the City of Gulfport. In a recent 6 to 1 vote, city leaders approved the pay raise for Vignes and they made his job a management position.
According to Councilman Ron Roland, council members added more responsibilities to Vignes' job.
"He's the one that represents the city at different functions, conventions, gatherings, any municipal league activities, anything that includes the promotion of the city," Roland said.
In a letter to the city council on March 27, Gulfport Chief Administrative Officer John Kelly said Vignes has been employed with the city for the past four and a half years as a public information officer.
"Because of his personality and love of people, Chris quickly became an integral part of our community, both professionally and personally. His position has evolved into much more than that previously communicated in his PIO job-description," Kelly stated.
Roland said Vignes puts in between 80 and 90 hours a week at work and was already performing way beyond his 40 hour work week.
"We want to elevate him to what he is worth. He is very deserving and hardworking individual," Roland explained. "We normally do this at budget time. But in this case, we decided to go forward on it at the recommendation of the mayor and Chief Administrative Officer John Kelly. We did not do it to create any hard feelings with other city employees."
But City Councilwoman Ella Holmes Hines, who voted against the raise, said there were hurt feelings.
"I have employees, who have been ringing my phone off the hook and they have been multitasking and it's very difficult for them right now," Hines said. "I don't think it's fair. Our employees have not had a raise in ten years. We had a female employee ask for the same thing and she was told, no and she has up to ten departments."
Hines said she doesn't agree that just one person got a pay raise when she said there are great employees all over the city. She said one issue she has is that the city didn't explain where the money to pay Vignes his raise would come from.
"The new job description was too vague. It was the same responsibility. They needed to expand the responsibilities. And giving one person almost $13,000 hurts the morale of other employees," she said.
Hines said she added an item in this week's council agenda to bring up the pay raise, but it somehow got deleted.
"I will be bringing it up again. This is nowhere near over. It will be brought up again during the May 2 meeting," she added.
Shana Blevins McDaniel posted her outrage about the pay raise saying, the Gulfport police officers haven't had a pay raise in six years, but the city found an additional $13,000 to give one person.