GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Gulfport City Council passed a budget proposal that includes a pay raise for city employees. Council members reviewed the city’s budget for fiscal year 2020 in a special meeting on Thursday.
The pay increase for city of Gulfport employees will go into effect next April. It will be the first raise for city workers since 2008, aside from cost-of-living pay adjustments in 2015 and 2016.
Mayor Billy Hewes said, “Anytime you give a raise, you have to understand, it’s not just a one-time expenditure. It’s going to be compounded and added to every single budget that comes in years succeeding. We had to make sure we had some certainty that we’re going to be able to afford it going down the road.”
Under the approved budget, city workers can earn up to a 3% pay increase based on performance evaluations from their respective directors.
The proposed budget notes that Gulfport’s economy is in a state of steady growth. In the meeting, people referenced development projects like the Mississippi Aquarium and Centennial Plaza as major revenue drivers for 2020.
Council President Rusty Walker acknowledged that the budget will be in a deficit. He mentioned that the council wants to be conservative about estimates on incoming funds, and plans to make adjustments in the future.
Salaries for the next crop of Gulfport’s elected officials were also discussed, but not finalized. In the proposal, Gulfport council salaries would make a 55% jump and the next administration’s mayor would earn 27% more.
Mayor Hewes said it’s all about equity. “We are the 2nd largest city in the state,” he said.
Hewes hopes to make wages for Gulfport’s future elected leaders comparable to other large cities on the Coast.
“If adopted, they won’t go into effect until the next election cycle. We believe that any elected official, if there’s a pay raise involved, there needs to be a cycle where they are answerable to the public, that they get to take a look at that," said Mayor Hewes.