Atlanta City Council approves 50% raise

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ATLANTA - Atlanta's city council passed a large pay raise its members and the mayor on Monday, angering some city employees who have gone for years without a pay increase.

The mayor has the option to veto the legislation, which would not take effect until after next year's election.

Jim Daws, Ppresident of the Board of the Atlanta Professional Fire Fighters Association, said he thinks City Council members deserve a raise for their hard work, but rank-and-file city workers deserve a raise, too. Salary increases for city of Atlanta employees are currently on hold.

"A lot of our members, our firefighters, will see this and get more disgusted," Daws told Channel 2's John Bachman. "City employees have been getting the wrong signal on compensation for over a decade now. Every year, we fall further and further behind our peers."

Council members said they hoped to ask for an employee raise at the same time they considered a 50 percent pay hike for their own positions.

Councilwoman Felicia Moore told Bachman, "We wanted to do it along with this paper to show good faith to employees today. Unfortunately, the administration asked us to hold back on it, so we're not able to move forward simultaneously."

Instead, council members will get a pay raise from $40,000 to $60,000 in 2014. It comes after a study showed their pay was far below council members in comparable cities.

"There will never be a good time to increase the salaries, and no one will ever think we deserve an increase in salary," Moore said. "I do know there is some hope among council members that we will consider some pay increase for employees between now and 2014."

The legislation also gives the mayor a raise in 2014. Right now the position pays $147,500 but in 2014 it would increase to $184,000.

It would be possible for Mayor Kasim Reed to veto the raises, but spokeswoman Sonji Dade says he is reserving judgment on the entire bill.

"Mayor Reed's position has been that he will not accept any raise for himself as long as he is mayor of Atlanta," Dade said.

Dade said the mayor could take other measures to make sure he does not receive the pay raise while serving as mayor.