Mayor Kasim Reed met with Gina Pagnotta, president of PACE/NAGE Local 550, and several members Wednesday to jointly discuss the framework and timeline of implementing an employee pay raise for City of Atlanta employees. He also discussed a potential employee pay raise proposal with Jesse Jones, Gwen Gillespie and other leaders of AFSCME Local 1644.
Mayor Reed outlined a plan in which employee pay raises would be discussed after the city receives the latest property tax digest figures from Fulton County in January. At that point, the mayor said he would again meet with union leaders to discuss the specific details of a permanent employee pay increase.
"We are confident that we can reach a resolution when we meet again in January," said Reed. "My goal is to agree on a pay increase for City of Atlanta employees --- one that is fair to them, and responsible, affordable and sustainable for the city."
Pagnotta said she and the other union members who attended the meeting appreciated Reed's commitment to decline a personal pay raise if he is elected to a second mayoral term. The mayor earns $147,500 per year; the raise approved last week by the Atlanta City Council and effective in January 2014 would increase his salary by 25 percent to $184,300 per year.
Pagnotta said the meeting was "heartfelt" and ended on an optimistic note.
"I've never seen Mayor Reed go back on his word," Pagnotta said. "He said he wants to give employees a meaningful raise, something that after taxes are taken out can be used to make a real difference, like pay a large bill. On our end, we said we work to
improve employee morale in the city's departments and encourage even more efficiency and productivity."
"We're pleased Mayor Reed is committed to fairly compensating the thousands of public servants who come to work every day on behalf of the residents, business owners and visitors to our great city," said Jesse Jones, president of AFSCME Local 1644. "We look forward to meeting with him in January to develop a pay raise proposal that will make a difference in the lives of so many employees."
Since taking office in January 2010, Reed has worked to bring fiscal stability to the city, which experienced employee lay-offs and severe cutbacks for several years prior to his election. He enacted a series of measures to improve the city's financial health, leading to three balanced budgets in a row with no property tax increases.
The city's reserves have grown from $7.4 million to $110 million, and Reed, in partnership with the Atlanta City Council and the employee unions, approved a pension reform plan that will lead to $270 million in savings over the next 10 years.
At the same time, the Reed administration has worked to improve customer service and fairly compensate city employees. City officials recently adjusted employee salaries to 80 percent of the market rate to ensure the workers are being fairly compensated.
In 2010, the Reed administration provided sworn officers and firefighters with a 3.5 percent raise and gave a $450 bonus to general employees making less than $70,000 per year.
Reed said: "I will continue to build a best-in-class workforce that rewards performance while keeping my promise to residents to strengthen the city's financial health, attract business investment and development, and encourage entrepreneurship."