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Russellville plans for city employee pay raises

At the conclusion of an Auburn University Government and Economic Development Institute HR consulting program, the City of Russellville has approved a recommendation to the civil service board regarding pay grade for city employees. Assuming the board gives its OK, the city will be ready to move forward on allocating an additional $124,042.88 for salaries over last year, plus another possible $18K for an EMS incentive program.

“I feel good about it,” said Mayor David Grissom. “We knew we had issues, especially at the bottom of our pay scale.” Employees near the bottom of the pay scale will see the greatest increase in salary. “We spent a lot of time and effort to get this in place, and I think it’s best for the city and city employees going forward.”

The council approved the General Fund FY 2016-17 Budget, $8,783,713, a slight dip from the last fiscal year’s budget. “Appropriation to the school remains the same, $1M – that’s something we all felt was really important,” Grissom said. He said the council held off approving a budget until the new council was in place.

The council also received an early Christmas gift at its Dec. 5 meeting. Two land transfers, from Pleasant Ridge LLC and Payne Creek Springs LLC, represent a gift of more than 300 acres of land to the City of Russellville.

A company out of Birmingham had purchased the large tract of land off Highway 24, just behind the Texaco station. They were going to develop the property but “they had a change of heart,” according to city attorney Danny McDowell.

“This company went in and did some improvements on the property,” which is old strip mining property, McDowell said. “They have decided rather than doing anything with the property, they want to donate it to the City of Russellville.”

The city is not permitted to sell the property for at least five years, but there is timber on the property that could be cut now, and McDowell said the company has offered to continue improvements on the property. “There’s a tax benefit for them for giving it to the city, and on the environmental improvements, they get some credits for that, that they can apply, as a mining company,” McDowell said. “It’s a quid pro quo. They are getting something out of it too. But basically, it’s just a gift to the city.”

The gifted land does not adjoin the city limits.

“We’re very thankful for the company doing this for us,” Grissom said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do with it … It’s just a gift, and we’re very thankful. That doesn’t happen very often.”

The city also recognized Russellville Churches and the Cotton Flats Cruisers Car Club for donations to the Helping Santa Toy Drive – $1,500.02 and $500 respectively.