Americus City Council Approves Ten Percent Pay Raise to Increase Retention on August 17th

Published 8:54 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

The council started by proclaiming Ms. Mathis as the honorary council member for the month of August.

Afterwards, the council heard a request by several department heads to increase employee wages by ten percent for existing employees. The representatives stated that vacant positions had increased workloads, cost of living had increased, and various other cities currently provide more incentives.

Council member Nelson Brown responded.

“I asked for all the surrounding areas, and you could reach out further, on what is the starting salary, and what is the salary of different positions.”

Speaking of the council he said:

“They don’t want you to get paid any less than anyone else.”

“We have to be held accountable to the entire city.”

“We have some good employees,” adding that “We need to elevate the level of service.”

The representatives mentioned that populations differences in nearby cities such as Albany made comparisons difficult, admitting competing with Albany salaries would be unrealistic. The representatives mentioned they had made a bid for a salary study, but that the study could take until next year to yield results.

Juanita Wilson had concerns that raising salaries would raise the millage rate.

Representatives mentioned that while the raise would cost $275,371.63 over a four-month period, current vacancies would cover the cost. Juanita Wilson voiced concern about whether this would still be the case in 2024.

The representatives mentioned instances where the city had spent money on training only for employees to leave, resulting in more expense in training new ones. They also stated they were not asking for minimum and maximum wages to change, though this was also an issue.

Chief Scott addressed the council, comparing the situation to the first responder’s use of a tourniquet.

“What we’re asking y’all to do tonight is to take an immediate action to stop the bleed.”

“We are bleeding out. We are losing people faster than we can bring them in.”

The Zoom meeting was hacked, forcing the council to abandon recording.

“We have dropped to the lowest paid public safety people in this area. Even the county has surpassed us.” Chief Scott continued after the interruption.

Mayor Kinnamon expressed concerns that a salary study would take so much time. A salary study had not been conducted since 2016.

Council member Daryl Dowdell made a motion to approve the ten percent increase. The motion was seconded by Nicole Smith and approved unanimously.

The council consented to a new website platform. The issue with comments being subject to open records and undeletable was discussed. A filter was suggested by Diadra Powell, the city manager.

The council also consented to approve an elections invoice for $16,000.

A request to replace three floors in the municipal building was then heard by the council from Roger Willis, Chief Building official. Kelvin Pless made a motion to accept it, which was seconded by Charles Christmas, which passed unanimously.

The council also heard about the new initiative to photo enforce speed limits in the school zone.

City attorney Jimmey Skipper stated that the ordinance would apply city-wide and that charges would be a civil matter instead of a criminal one. The first thirty days would have no citations to accustom people to photo enforcement. The radar policing drivers would only register a vehicle when a driver went 10 mph over the speed limit.

The first violation would be $75 with a fine of $125 for the second violation, with the owner of the car receiving the notice. A process for the owner to appeal if not driving the vehicle at the time of the violation is in place requiring them to either produce the driver and make a statement under oath or produce a law enforcement report that the car was stolen.