DALLAS –– The Dallas City Council narrowly approved merit raises for civilian employees on Wednesday, a move that Mayor Mike Rawlings has championed as a way of saving money while still giving extra pay to city staffers.
"The money is too tight. We're trying to figure out every last nickel,” Rawlings said after the 9-6 vote was recorded.
The other option in front of the council was to grant 3 percent raises across-the-board.
By reminding council members of tight budget constraints, the mayor defended his call for pay raises based on merit instead of rewarding all city employees with an across the board raise.
"I don't want to give money to people who have discipline problems and I don't want to give money to people that have been here only a month," he said.
Supporters of the across the board raise said they had concerns about fairness. They reminded the mayor that all employees dealt with salary freezes and furloughs during the recession.
“I'm convinced after talking to employees at every level of our city that an across the board pay raise this year and return to merit pay next year is the best way to improve morale and incentivize performance," said District 14 councilman Philip Kingston.
"I worked in the system where a merit increase was not fair to all and I know this first hand," said District 7 councilwoman Carolyn Davis.
Davis was one of six council members who voted against merit raises. Nine voted in favor, backing the mayor.
Under the merit plan, a vast majority of workers will get at least a 3 percent raise, but some could get more based on performance evaluations. The salary increase is just one part of the councils $2.8 billion dollar budget, which was also approved on Tuesday.