Fort Worth city general employees in line for 4 percent pay raise in 2015

By Scott Nishimura

Fort Worth’s general city employees will get a 4 percent across-the-board pay raise for September, the last month of the fiscal year, and City Council members signaled unanimous support on Tuesday night for including the raise in the 2015 budget.

Council members approved a resolution that acknowledges the city has held the line on expenses, the risk that Fort Worth won’t be able to compete with other similar cities for employees if it doesn’t raise pay, and the intention of new City Manager David Cooke to implement the pay raise for the last month of the fiscal year and to include it in next year’s budget.

Another 1 percent will be budgeted for to augment pay for positions that are highly in demand and hard to recruit. Cooke presented his proposed $1.5 billion citywide budget to Mayor Betsy Price and City Council members on Tuesday. Council members will hold public hearings on it and vote in September.

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The pay raise, if implemented in the budget, would be general employees’ second increase since 2009.

The staff proposal to include it in the budget highlights the city’s confidence in its finances heading into the new fiscal year.

“We’ve got to be competitive with our peer cities, or we’re going to have real challenges for our organization,” Susan Alanis, assistant city manager, said in an interview Friday.

All general employees would be included, except Cooke, who won’t receive a raise, and employees who are already at the top of their pay ranges. Employees who are covered by the city’s police and fire labor contracts would not be included. Police employees, in a four-year contract the council approved in 2013, receive annual pay raises and “step” increases for tenure.

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Alanis said the staff feels confident that it can keep the pay increase in the budget after the next fiscal year, given the growing strength of the economy and the city’s success at holding down expenses.

The staff has said it wants to refine its budget and capital processes to ensure its financial decisions are sustainable over years, and not just a short period.

General employees’ last across-the-board pay raise was 3 percent, in fiscal 2012.

The council had included in the current budget a possible 5 percent increase to be awarded in September of this year if staff could find sufficient savings to pay for it. That 5 percent proposal has now been reconfigured for the new budget to encompass the 4 percent across-the-board raise and the 1 percent pool to augment pay for certain other positions.