Proposed pay changes stir Columbus city council meeting

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A special city council session was called Tuesday afternoon to talk about potential pay changes for city employees. Proposed changes to the new budget include moving all Columbus Consolidated Government employees from a weekly pay schedule to bi-weekly.

It got tense at times, there was one employee who stormed out, one was escorted out. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson addressed the audience of mostly city workers telling them to behave after many laughed to mock a comment from the city manager.

If the budget is approved, weekly employees would be a 20-hour bonus on August 11 to make up for them not being paid during the transition week. But some councilors believe the 20-hour bonus isn’t enough for employees and their families who live pay check to pay check.

“There are those who are involved in weekly rental agreements so if they don’t have the money they could end up on the street,” says Bruce Huff.

One suggestion, give employees the full 40-hour advance instead of 20, so they can rely on a full week’s pay during the transition week. But increasing the advance would cost the city about $1 million, bringing the total to more than $2 million to get the money, the city would have to dip into the reserve fund.

“The feeling of several of the councilors is that we need to bite that bullet and give our employees that additional money,” says Judy Thomas.

“I’m leaning toward the employees at this point so we need to put the money in their pockets to make sure they they can do what they need to do for their families,” says Bruce Huff.

To Councilor Huff, the August transition is especially tough for employees with kids.

“How do you go home and explain to your kids you can’t get school supplies, you can’t buy clothes, you can’t do the necessities of being ready for school?” says Bruce Huff.

When asked how many city workers would be negatively impacted by changing to bi-weekly pay, every hand went up.

How to pay employees during the transition week will be answered and voted on at the next city council meeting on July 11th.

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