Battle offers 5% pay raise for all City of Huntsville employees

Mayor Tommy Battle wants to give City of Huntsville employees the biggest pay raise of his term.

Battle will propose a 5% cost-of-living adjustment for all city employees as part of the administration’s 2023 budget that must be approved by city council. The biggest increase in Battle’s 14 years as mayor was a 3% increase last year.

“It’s the big leap to look at inflation and what inflation does to the average American citizen and look at how to be a competitive workforce,” Battle said of his decision to push for a 5% increase.

Typically, the city has scheduled a 1-2% increase for workers ahead of last year’s 3% increase.

“When you’re sitting and looking at 8-9% inflation, we need to make sure our workforce keeps up and is competitive with the workforce outside,” Battle said. “We have seen employees who have been hired away from us and who have been hired for higher salaries. And so I think that’s one of the ways we make sure that we retain good employees. Our government is only as good as the employees we have.

The cost of living adjustment, also known as the COLA, is in addition to pay increments that some employees may be entitled to. However, not all employees are eligible for these increments.

The COLA will cost the city between $6 million and $7 million, Battle said, and will cover about 2,300 full-time employees. The mayor said he and his staff “thought long and hard” before committing to the proposal.

“It’s a necessity,” he said. “Your workforce is what makes your government what it is. You are only as good as your workforce. We must therefore maintain a good quality workforce.

Battle described rising insurance costs as another “budget pressure” as well as maintaining a healthy fleet for garbage, police and fire, among other city departments.

The city may push back some spending to next spring when council conducts mid-year budget reviews and additional funds may become available based on tax revenue in the first six months of the fiscal year.

City Council will hold a business meeting on September 15 to review the budget and consider changes to the administration’s proposal. The budget is expected to be approved by the board by the end of the month ahead of fiscal year 2023 beginning October 1.

Battle also said the increase in salaries for city employees reflected the city’s growth into Alabama’s largest — growth showing no signs of slowing. Huntsville’s population is nearly 217,000, according to the latest census projections from last year. Huntsville added more than 50,000 people from 2010 to 2020 – the largest total population gain in the state.

“We’re a growing city, we’re an expanding city,” Battle said. “Our borders have expanded a bit, but our population is also growing, probably growing by around 4,500 to 5,000 people a year. And so as we grow as a city, we need to increase our workforce. implement and develop our offerings in our services to match this growth.

William M. Mayer