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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Atlanta cops better not count on pay increases

Hey, he tried
  • Hey, he tried
Don't buy that new flat screen just yet, officer.

After sitting in on part of Wednesday's marathon Atlanta Council Finance Committee hearing and chatting with a few City Hall insiders, I'm ready to predict that the Council will not approve the 3.5-percent raises proposed by Mayor Kasim Reed for the upcoming FY 2011 city budget.

Now, that may not be the biggest news flash at this point, seeing as the amended version of the budget proposal endorsed by Finance yesterday specifically excised the $4 million Reed had earmarked for step pay increases.

But even before Finance Chairwoman Yolanda Adrean submitted the amendment, I'd heard enough to convince me that the proposed APD-only pay hike wasn't sitting well with several members of the Council.

Part of the reason is simple fairness. Few city workers have seen any kind of raise in the last four years or so. And, goes the thinking, those who've managed to survive the various rounds of layoffs have had to assume heavier work loads, so why should they get stiffed?

Then there's the hard reality of the recession. Atlanta is one of the few jurisdictions hiring police officers in this economy. Put bluntly, we don't need to give pay raises to persuade our cops to stay because there's nowhere else for them to go.

Reed's other core proposals include transforming two dozen neighborhood rec centers as "Centers of Hope," at a cost of $3.7 million and hiring 100 new cops. Councilwoman Felicia Moore had dropped an amendment that would've erased almost all of the mayor's initiatives, but, while her colleagues on Finance didn't support her proposal in toto, several were clearly sympathetic with her desire to rein in spending.

I haven't asked him, but I'm guessing that Reed won't be heart-broken if the police raises are jettisoned by the Council. Politically speaking, the important thing is, he tried.

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