Thursday, October 20, 2011

City Employees' COLA Request Fails to Gather 6 Needed Votes

Helena-West Helena -- The City Council met in open session on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 in its second regular meeting for the month of October. One of the items considered by the city council was a COLA for the city employees. The COLA is a cost-of-living-adjustment. The timing is quite interesting in light of the fact that social security pensioners and others will be receiving a 3.6 COLA increase beginning in January from the federal government.

In past years, the city employees have counted on receiving two (2) stipends in addition to the regular low pay: COLA and DEFERRED PAY. The COLA has been traditionally provided as a one time $250-$300 payment in August just prior to the start of school. The DEFERRED PAY has been treated as earned but unpaid income and provided to the employees with ample time on the current year's payroll just ahead of the "Black Friday" events in November of each year.

On Tuesday night, Alderman Eddie Clark made the motion to pay $500.00 to Elected Officials and Full Time Employees and $300.00 to Part-Time Employees. Each person would have to have been employed at least six (6) months prior to October 18, 2011 in order to receive the pay out. Alderman Marvin Jarrett moved to reduce the part-time pay amount to $250.00. That motion carried by a vote of 9 in favor and 1 against. 

Then, the main motion, which had been modified by Alderman Jarrett's amendment which gather a 9-1 vote, was voted upon and received 5 favorable votes, 4 negative votes and one abstention. The motion therefore failed. Because there are 10 council members, 6 votes are necessary for any item to pass. The mayor, can if he chooses, vote in favor of any item needing a 6th vote.

At this time, there has been no discussion of the next steps. However, there has been reported confusing on whether the COLA passed on Tuesday night. It did not.

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