Amendment for 13% pay increase for first responders fails at city council meeting

Water & Sewerage workers say they too deserve an increase; “all of us need 13%”
There was a packed chamber for the Shreveport City Council meeting Dec. 14, 2021, as talk of...
There was a packed chamber for the Shreveport City Council meeting Dec. 14, 2021, as talk of the need for pay raises continued. Audience members were asked to keep the aisles clear in the council chambers and use the overflow room to view the proceedings.(Source: Chandler Watkins/KSLA News 12)
Published: Dec. 12, 2021 at 10:02 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2021 at 7:14 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — There’s a packed chamber for today’s Shreveport City Council meeting, as talk of the need for pay raises continues.

Audience members were asked to clear the aisles in the council chambers and use the overflow room to view the proceedings.

Three council members proposed giving a 13% pay raise to the city’s first responders. The budget amendment is among items City Council members are set to discuss during their meeting 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14.

After deliberation, the amendment eventually failed. Councilmembers Grayson Boucher, LeVette Fuller and John Nickelson voted in favor of the increase, while Tabitha Taylor, James Green and Jerry Bowman voted against it.

In response to the proposal, Water & Sewerage Department workers showed up at Monday’s administrative conference to voice their frustration over pay and to argue that they too merit a pay increase.

Some Water & Sewerage workers were back Tuesday. Fire and police personnel also have shown up to ask for the pay raise that’s been proposed for them.

Water & Sewerage employees who spoke Monday said they agree that fire and police personnel deserve the raises, but they also feel they deserve them, too.

“We aren’t against them, it’s just that you aren’t being equal,” said one employee. “I understand they need it. We need it as well.”

“We have a very small department,” said Phillip Ross. “We are trying to hold on but it’s hard. We work anywhere between 40-80 hours a week to take care of families here.”

“I just want everyone to understand that the water and sewer department has a lot of hardworking, dedicated employees,” said William Daniel, the department’s director. “I know police and fire put their lives on the line. But if you remember back to the winter storm, my guys were in holes fixing pipes in the dark of night putting their lives at risk as well.”

Many on the council agreed.

“You tell us what you need and what your employees need, the administration tells us what they need and we will look at it and move on it just like we plan to move on public safety,” District D’s Grayson Boucher said.

But their main problem: finding the funding to do so. Boucher has suggested taking $7 million out of the city’s reserves to fund the first responders’ pay increase.

District B Councilwoman LeVette Fuller said she sees giving a pay raise to first responders as a first step.

“People keep saying they are leaving here because they don’t feel safe,” Fuller said. “If we are hemorrhaging officers, firefighters and medics, can we start there as a first domino? Because if we can retain population, we will still have a tax base that we can actually look at recurring funds to cover raises for everyone else.”

Other issues on the agenda include:

  • Changing the pay plan for classified employees in grades 8 through 11 effective Jan. 1 to reflect the city’s minimum wage rate of $13 an hour. “Amending the pay plan will update the scale and allow the salaries to be more on par with current market trends.”
  • Amending the terms of the contract with C. Edwards Concepts LLC for curbside recycling services to require a $1.9 million surety bond to be re-evaluated on a year-to-year basis after the first year.
  • Amend the city’s contracts with the Krewe of Centaur and Krewe of Gemini and enter agreements with the Krewe of Harambee, Krewe of Highland and Krewe of Sobek.

Boucher explained his intent to seek the 13% pay raise in a Facebook post he made the day after Shreveport voters had their say on the city’s $242 million bond proposal. “These funds will be taken from reserve and will be around $7 million,” he explained.

The electorate only approved Proposition 1, which provides $70.65 million toward public safety but nothing toward pay raises. And voters did so by a margin of 59% to 41% with less than 16,000 casting ballots.

On Sunday, Boucher released a statement about the election. In part, it reads:

In a Facebook post Sunday morning, Boucher said the 13% pay raise proposal is one of two public safety-related budget amendments that he, Fuller and District C Councilman John Nickelson will introduce. The other proposal calls for spending $750,000 to provide the Fire Department with an 11th medic unit and the personnel to man it.

Below is the agenda packet for the meetings Monday and Tuesday:

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