#10: City, workers wrangle over pay raises

By Staff
Jan. 1, 2001
Following weeks of disagreement in September and October, and arguments about how raises should be distributed among city employees, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith and Meridian City Council members reached an agreement.
Before any compromise could be reached, employees with the Meridian Police Department and with the Meridian Fire Department would go out on a limb and voice their concerns publicly in meetings with city council members. Before it was over, city council members rejected the mayor's "Pay to Stay" merit raise plan, and Smith vetoed their across-the-board pay raise proposal.
The wrangling over who would get what reached a peak when MPD employees accused Smith of unfairly awarding raises based on merit. The accusations stemmed from a belief that merit pay raises would be based on the "good old buddy" system despite the mayor's plan to have a three-member committee decide who would get what.
During meetings, MPD employees discussed problems with the department, such as a severe shortage in patrol officers, and MFD employees confronted the mayor with a petition to stop the merit raises, signed by all but a handful of employees.
In the end, city employees won. On Oct. 6, they received their first paychecks including the raise 2.5 percent or $800 a year, whichever was greater.