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Cincinnati Council Expected To Approve Pay Raises For Most City Workers

Jay Hanselman

Update 09/08/16 3:05 p.m.: Council members approved the raises Thursday by a 7-2 vote. Council members David Mann and Amy Murray were the two dissenting votes.

Original Post: The full Cincinnati Council is likely to vote Thursday on a couple proposals giving four to five percent pay raises to all city workers.  The increases would apply to union and non-union workers, except for department heads.  

Mayor John Cranley had proposed increasing pay rates for union workers last month, and modified his plan last week for represented employees after the police union agreed to four percent raises for each of the next three years.

"The question is simply whether this policy body would like to ask the manager to match on a percentage basis the other represented employees to the deal that was struck with the FOP," Cranley said. "I believe we should."

A council majority added pay hikes to non-union employees Tuesday during a meeting of the budget and finance committee.  

All council members say they support pay raises for workers.  But some are concerned about how the city will pay for them, especially in the next two fiscal years.  

"Just saying 'Oh well we can figure it out a year from now,' I think that's the cheap way to do it," said council member Chris Seelbach. "Because a year from now, it will much easier to say we're going to close health centers or we're going to layoff school nurses. We'll why don't you put that on the table today so that we know what it's going to take to pay for these wage increases."

The higher wages will cost the city between $25 and $30 million through the 2018 fiscal year.  

Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld said employees deserve the raises and the city can afford them.

"It doesn't compute for me that we have watched this body give enormous raises to the people that are already our highest paid city employees, and then when we're sitting on a nearly $17 million surplus say we can't find any money."

This year's pay increases will be funded from the surplus.  But no sources have been identified for the upcoming fiscal years.