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Divided council OKs two more pay increases for city employees

In a split vote the Hendersonville City Council on Thursday night agreed to an immediate 3 percent across-the-board increase for city employees and two other pay increases that would put city workers in the 75th percentile among similar local government units.

Based on a pay and classification plan consultants presented to the council in January, City Manager John Connet recommended the city immediately grant the 3 percent pay increase plus other raises needed to move all positions to the 65th percentile at a cost of  $560,552. A pay increase to move all employees to the 75th percentile, effective July 1, will cost the city $2,064,773. On a motion by Jennifer Hensley, the council also set the city's minimum pay rate at "the living wage of $16.88 per hour."

Hensley, Lyndsey Simpson and Mayor Barbara Volk voted in favor; Jerry Smith and Debbie Roundtree voted no.

"I am in favor of the 3 percent, I am in favor of the living wage, I am in favor of the 65 percent," Smith said. "But because of the tax burden the 75 will go to, I’m not comfortable with 75 percent."

Volk said: "I am not real comfortable with going to the 75 percent immediately, July 1. I would prefer to see it phased in. I definitely agree the employees deserve it."

Smith responded that he too supports city employees but is concerned about "a significant amount of increase in spending" next fiscal year and beyond.

Connet's recommendation to the council did not say whether the $2 million payroll increase in the fiscal year beginning July 1 would require a property tax increase.