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'This is ludicrous': 2% pay raise proposal sparks heated Lynchburg City Council debate

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Frustrations and tensions mounted and came to a head at a Lynchburg city budget session on April 24, 2018.

The issue was whether or not to give city employees 2% raises across the board or a one-time bonus.

"This is ludicrous. I am so disappointed in how this has been running," said Councilman Turner Perrow, after a heated exchange with Mayor Joan Foster.

Most of the debate centered around a market salary study being done, but the results of the study are not expected until late June or early July.

Perrow criticized City Manager Bonnie Svrcek for not having the results in yet.

"I would not, at this point, want to make a salary increase that would antiquate the report that would come from that," said Councilman Randy Nelson, referring to the salary study.

"If you think you're gonna feed everybody 2% across the board, that means that all the inequalities in the market will remain, they're just 2% advanced," Perrow said, also suggesting it wouldn't be fair to teachers, since they aren't getting raises.

Other council members disagreed, saying the market studies are a moving target and arguing too many employees are paid below the median range. They also pointed out a prior study was piecemealed toward 500 employees, leaving out 700.

"I want to maintain my 2%, whether I'm running for election or not," said Vice Mayor Treney Tweedy, in response to Perrow's remarks that the pay raise supporters are just trying to buy votes.

"And I'm out the door, so I'm not running for anything. I want our people to be compensated," said Mayor Joan Foster, who does not plan to seek re-election to city council but supports the raise.

Those against the raise recommended a one-time bonus of $500 for full time employees and $250 for part timers, as long as they meet performance expectations.

In the end, the motion to pass a 2% pay raise failed. Council voted 4 to 3 for the one-time bonuses, which take effect July 1. They discussed revisiting the proposed pay raise once the market salary study is completed.

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