City Budget Calls for Employee Raises

Budget Battle
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The city of Colorado Springs has just released its proposed budget for 2003. It calls for across-the-board raises for city employees. Overall, the budget is approximately $212.6 million. The proposed raises would amount to about $4.9 million of that amount.

But with so many people in our area out-of-work, and with the city already making cutbacks in other areas, some people are wondering why the city is budgeting for raises.

On Thursday, City Manager Lorne Kramer addressed those concerns. He says the pay increases are designed to retain quality employees. Kramer also says this should not be portrayed as an exorbinent increase, since city employees have actually been 12 months behind people in comparable markets. He says the goal is to close that gap. Kramer wants to bring city pay up to the 2002 median salaries for similar jobs.

Debra Hilton is one of the 6,600 people in the Springs area who recently lost a job. Hilton says since her layoff, she's spent every day looking for work, but without success. She says she's happy city workers have jobs and might get raises, but she questions the fairness of the proposal. She says her family is struggling just to eat and keep a roof over their heads, and it upsets her to see city workers getting raises.

Kramer defends the move and says he's protecting the city's investment by holding on to quality workers. He says, "Once we have them, we want to ensure that our investment is protected and we can retain them." He also says he expects a lot of debate on this issue before next year's budget is finally approved.