CHIPLEY – Annual pay raises and a new pay scale may give some City of Chipley employees up to a nine-percent salary increase.

At Monday’s Chipley City Council workshop, City Administrator Dan Miner presented a proposed annual pay raise of three percent and new pay scale, which is a step scale based on longevity, that would put most employees at a six-percent salary increase.

The council votes on the pay scale at its regular meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1442 W. Jackson Ave.

The salary adjustment would cost the City about $106,000. According to Miner, the adjustment is long overdue and positions the city to retain valuable employees.

The adjustment would impact all employees with the exception of department heads. The proposal puts the starting base salary at $10.12 an hour.

“This is just to get our employees to a competitive rate for the surrounding area,” Miner said. “It’s getting employees up to a level that will make us competitive and quit losing them to other places … to other cities.”

Currently, only two employees are on schedule in receiving full pay raises; while the vast majority may have received up to two-percent annual raises over a number of years with the City.

Council member Karen Rustin was most vocal about the proposed adjustment, grilling City staff about whether it would “reward” “bad” employees and position “somebody out here sweeping” to make as competitive of salary as “an officer who is putting their life on the line.”

“To me, that’s $15 well spent,” she said, after suggesting a “sweeper” should not be on the same pay scale as an officer – that she would be more comfortable with paying more for officers, for example, starting them out at $15 an hour – and allowing other jobs to go without the proposed six-percent salary step increase.

However, according to Miner and City Clerk Patrice Tanner, the City’s general starting base salary is $9.04 an hour, with the lowest paid employee currently earning less than that. Also, the City had failed to institute regular annual three-percent pay raises for more than 15 years.

Currently, police officers start out at about $12 an hour.

The proposal is “the best we could come up with to make it fair,” Tanner told the council.

“It keeps us competitive,” Miner added. “And that goes for that ‘sweeper’ too.”

Tanner and Miner reminded the council Public Works sees the most turnover and the proposed pay adjustment would give the department’s employees incentive to stay with the City.

“I am for the employees getting a raise,” Mayor Lee Dell Kennedy said. “We’ve been on the bottom of pay scale for a long time.”

The bonafide annual three-percent raise and pay scale is rolled into the proposed City budget and the budget is balanced, according to City officials. The council will have a public hearing for the tentative millage and budget adoption at 5:05 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 1442 W. Jackson Ave.