Wilmington City Council gives OK on payment for city workers

By Tom Lehman 1:08am, November 2, 2012 - Updated 3:31pm, November 2, 2012
Wilmington City Council approved a one-time payment to city employees that's a cost of living increase Thursday on the same night that three members attended their final meeting.

City workers will receive up to $2,000--as much $500 for each fiscal year without a raise--as a result of an ordinance supported by Mayor Jim Baker that was passed in 10-2 decision.

Councilman Mike Brown sponsored the ordinance, which amends the city's operating budget to include financial support for city employees during difficult economic times.

"I wish we could give them more, I wish we could do more. But because we can't do more, little is better than none," he says.

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Councilman Kevin Kelley voted the ordinance but says giving employees a raise would be more supportive of city workers.

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"It's not gonna put them over the top, but I think sometimes the gesture is better than the thought at least," he says.

Councilman Paul Ignduo was among those who voted against the ordinance while he agreed that a raise would be more appropriate, he says the funds could be needed elsewhere in the future.

"We know we're pulling roughly $2 million from the contingency fund, so it's unassigned dollars, and I accept that. But the next administration may need those unassigned dollars to cover some severe revenue projections," he says.

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The payments cost more than $2,000,000 and will be taken from the city's General Fund Unassigned Fund Balance.

Non-union employees and union employees of AFSCME Locals 1102, 320 and FOP Lodge #1 Captains and Inspectors will receive $500 for the four years they didn't receive a raise for a maximum of $2,000.

Unionized employees of FOP Lodge #1 Rank and File and IAFF Local 1590 will receive $500 for for the three out of four years that they did not receive a raise for a maximum of $1,500.

Employees of AFSCME Local 1102B will receive $175 for four fiscal years without a raise for a maximum of $700.

Council members Charles Potter, Eric Robinson and Tracey Thompson Schofield were each honored during the meeting for their public service as the three leave office.

Potter, a three-term councilman elected in 2000, will be heading down to Dover as the state representative for North Wilmington.

"I came here to do a job, and I hope my constituency and the citizens of Wilmington will say I did a job well done," he says.

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He says the change will be "a huge difference" but believes his experience in government and business has readied him to be a state legislator.

"I'm able to be the watchman, to watch over the state now...To bring the dollars home back to Wilmington, to make sure that people's civil rights throughout the whole state are represented the right way, and to make sure that unions have a place...other people are brought to the table, whether disadvantaged business enterprises and just open up different venues that never happened before," he says.

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Robinson has filled in as councilman for Wilmington's third district, but lost the 2012 Democratic primary to challenger Darius Brown.

"Serving as the third district councilman for the last 22 months has been a privilege. I have really gotten to know some wonderful people," he says.

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Schofield has been filling a vacant spot in the eighth district since July. The council is experiencing major turnover as at least six council seats will belong to new representatives come January.

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