Archived Story

Amended city budget approved

Published 11:10pm Wednesday, May 7, 2014

City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an amended budget that implements the second phase of a compensation study for city employees and gives a 1-percent raise rather than giving a bonus.

School employees still would get a bonus, and the City Council also voted to fund a compensation study for school employees with current-year dollars.

Councilman Mike Duman proposed the amendments and said he had met with each of his colleagues individually in recent weeks.

The amendments partially reversed course from the proposed budget, which would have given only a 1.5-percent bonus to city and school employees. A raise initially was deemed unsustainable, but Duman said a variety of belt-tightening measures and improvement in the economy should cover the raises.

“I firmly believe a bonus would do little for retention and absolutely nothing for attracting new hires,” he said Wednesday.

The first phase of the compensation study was implemented in fiscal year 2013. The second phase, after Wednesday’s vote, will be implemented Jan. 1, 2015, with the 1-percent cost of living raise effective Dec. 1.

Duman said this phase of the compensation study will hike the pay of 702 city workers, with 46 percent of the monetary value going to police and fire department workers.

“I’m of the firm belief the economy is moving in the right direction,” he said after the meeting. City Council also voted to use current-year dollars to fund a third-party review of the city’s overtime pay practices, which is anticipated to save some money that can be used for the raises.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson said the plan had been vetted with the city’s financial advisers and Finance Department staff.

Each City Council member spoke in favor of the plan after Duman’s proposal.

“Everybody’s going to have to tighten up and be a little leaner, but it’s sustainable,” Councilman Roger Fawcett said.

Councilman Curtis Milteer noted that the plan should help boost morale among city workers and, indeed, the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2801, who spoke during late appearances, confirmed that.

“You’ve increased the morale in this city automatically tonight,” Travis Peirce said.

Several City Council members said they hope the school division also will be able to provide raises with what it’s given and reiterated that City Council does not tell the school division how to spend its money.

A 2-percent raise for teachers in the state is proposed in the General Assembly, where the budget is deadlocked over Medicaid expansion. City Council members also expressed the hope that raise will make it through the budget intact.

The city’s full budget is more than $538 million, with a general fund of $180 million. It includes no real estate tax increase.

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  • J. Peoples

    oh…..sorry didnt mean to hit a nerve….are you related?

    If you really read the comments, you would see that my comment was in response to another person, VaEducator. I could care less who she is related to, but just because she has been at your becken call and VaEducator’s doesn’t make her qualified, which is what the original comnent was!

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  • spdrltr

    Council claims they raised the tax rate to pay for the schools. Anyone who believes this has been drinking the same koolaid Linda has been feeding to her court of fools. Looks to me like they funded the cm and her cronies bogus pay increase, new offices to go with the raises and a library nobody wants or needs (haven’t you guys heard of the internet?). Will we have hitching posts in front?
    We’re constantly told what a great job the CM is doing – where would suffolk be without the huge windfall generated by North Suffolk? And what exactly has she done other than find ways to spend it? I don’t see housing flat to negative in VB – might that have something to do with adequate school funding?

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  • spdrltr

    Is Mr. Duman responding to his constituents cries because this is an election year for him. He was all for giving the CM and her regime their huge raises. I must question his motives for appearing to be a man for the people now? Smells like political B.S

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  • DHunt100

    Thank you Mr. Duman for taking the time to try to help and talk to us, we the taxpaying citizens of this pathetic city. You are at least showing us you are alive. How many other councilmen, our realtor mayor, and overpaid city manager have we heard from on any of these articles in the paper? NONE.

    They do not give a damn what we the citizens who pay their salaries think. I just recently started paying attention to these articles and get mad most of the time. I do not understand how the city manager and mayor can just turn a blind eye on us. Please explain to me how, they never have to answer to any of us. They too should be held accountable to answer our concerns. They treat us like we do not exist!

    Could they survive on our salaries? What do they eat for dinner when we have to feed our families hotdogs and beans? Do they sleep restfully when we can’t because of worrying if our next paycheck will be enough? Why does our City Manager truly deserve that outrageous salary? We are just as important in our factors. How can she sleep at night knowing the citizens are suffering and struggling, when she probably lives high on the hog? Yes, that is country slang because this is country, not the big city. Do our mayor and city manger ever read these comments? They are stone cold to the us.

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  • Roger Leonard

    Thank you Mike Duman, for trying when your colleges on council buried their heads in the sand, as directed by our very highly paid City Manager. It is gratifying that we now have at least one, maybe two, or maybe even three councilmen; who are thinking and leading. However the magic-number to get anything done is FIVE!

    We need to elect several thinking leaders like Mike, to pull in the same direction for change rather than following like Lemmings, the dictates of our City Manager’s failed strategies and poorly considered priorities. When she takes a mega 14 percent plus raise to keep her own position competitive, but fails to plan to take care of her city employees and provide guidance to insure teachers are provided for, even at a fraction of what she demanded; something is wrong with her professional performance.

    We do not need another study to know that employees are underpaid due to the lacking past raises; we need leadership to set such salary funding as a priority. In the huge budgets we see at over half a billion dollars we are looking at, such salary support is only forfeit due to very poor policy decisions by the City Manager, City Council, and the School Board. The city manager can be changed by an election, which first changes city council. The school board can also be changed by elections and they can set priorities to fund teachers, over other wants. But the present crew on council and SPS will not or cannot lead, and effectively both fail us all…

    I do hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state budgeting, and with fixed resources, the real issues are always driven by setting reasoned and relevant priorities. This insures effective outcomes that does as much as possible, with the resources we have. This clearly has not been done. To pay the City Manager and senior city staff huge raises, and then to expect the minion below them to take none; shows nothing less than greed, stupidity, and a direct dereliction of duty…

    Looks like it is clear, that it is time to clean house and that must start by changing council and the school board. Will the voters do so, or sleep again at the polls?

    It is as always, in the voters hands…

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    • Savannah

      Looks like it is clear, that it is time to clean house and that must start by changing council and the school board. Will the voters do so, or sleep again at the polls?

      I’ll be awake, as will my husband and son.. We just hope enough people want change that our votes for different folks (hey! that rhymed! ; ) ) matters this time.

      We’re keeping everything crossed. :)

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  • MrJiggyFly

    Mr. Duman . . . how do you explain the ridiculous water rates we are being charged? We went from the bottom rate compared to the surrounding seven cities to the top! My water bill has almost doubled and I’m using the same amount I used five years ago. Let me put it in a number you may understand . . . a monthly car payment for a mid-size, U.S. made sedan.

    From CC view from the stage, life probably looks good in Suffolk. It’s not. Cheap retail, cheap housing, struggling public schools, underpaid teachers, underpaid emergency personnel, overpaid school administrators, overpaid city administration, blah, blah, blah.

    Mr. Duman . . . can you look me in the eye, with a serious face and from your heart, and tell me the CM, Info Dept Head City Spokeswoman are worth the salary and benefits that you (and I) are paying them? That their job and responsibilities are equal to their equivalent positions found in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Fairfax, Alexandria, the Governor and city heads of D.C?

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  • mamabearof3

    I have sat here this morning reading over all these comments, only to get mad all over again. I, like so many others, agree that a pay study doesn’t need to be done (wasting money)as it is obvious we are all underpaid. And to the one poster-yes I do make less now than I did 7 years ago and it is sickening! The only thing that keeps me with the school system is my years of service and my age, but I can honestly say I too have started looking. It is just a shame that the City and School head honcho’s can’t sit down like adults and come to a solution that will benefit all employees (that are deserving of a raise). An across the board raise for all employees is crazy, do evaluations mean nothing anymore? To get a raise, an employee should be performing adequately at their position and we all know that in both businesses there are ALOT of them that are sitting back doing hardly anything. Another way to cut some costs is to take a look at each department and ask yourselves do we really need all these employees. You can be riding down the road, seeing work being done on the road with a crew of 6-8 people and only 2-3 are actually working?? And schools could look at the same thing…do we really need so many people working through the summer? Couldn’t departments cut back during this time offering 10 month contracts to those that really aren’t needed in the summer? There are so many ways to “find” money, but it is going to require people to actually do their jobs…oh my goodness is that even possible? Surprising Suffolk needs to change their motto to “Suffolk Sucks”! I am a lifelong resident of Suffolk and sadly I would never recommend anyone I know to move here. The schools are getting worse and worse and the City officials and SB just don’t give a crap anymore or are just plain ignorant! Ugh…Happy dang Friday.

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  • Coolaid

    The city has approx. 1300 workers with about 700 scheduled to receive another one third pay adjustment that is based on at least three year old information. That leaves 600 who haven’t had a raise in 5 years whom it appears will have to wait another 4-5 years before the pay study adjustments are implemented and salaries will be even further behind. This last implementation takes affect Jan 2015 and 1% cost of living in dec 2014…basically another year further behind that will cost even more when they decide on an equitable pay schedule. Delaying only cost more.

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  • J. Peoples

    Mr. Dumas, if the city is giving 920000 + 70000 added to the 820000 from the school budget, couldn’t that have been used to fund a raise for the teacher. Why pay for what you already know? Didn’t the pilot do provide that info. And you are right, this situation didn’t happen over night, but the council and school system watched as certain administrative pay in both the city and school system rose and nothing was done to curtail the action. When the city workers, teachers, police, and fireman cried out for equal pay for equal work. their cries were answered by a backdoor increase for the city manager and her crew. When they continued to show loyalty to the city of Suffolk insult was added to injury and a 20mil library and new city hall was proposed and SAO pretended to elimanate 13 admin positions only to restructure with 19 new higher paid positions that was.added to instruction. Its appears to be a political game…….and the teachers, city workers, fireman, policeman, and the city of Suffolk are suffering while it is business as usual for the Powers That Be……If I were a teacher, policeman, fireman, or city worker, I’d high tail it so fast out of Suffolk it would make uour head spin! Let the overpaid City Manager and Inept City Council, along with the novice superintendent and the inept school board, protect and serve the people, teach the students, provide rescue and fire service, and maintain city hall operations!

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  • hambone

    I will say thanks mike for helping some . No other councilman had commonsense to do anything.

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  • hambone

    I’m a city employee who lost money when the 1/3 was given years ago. I received a 40 dollar a year raise but lost it when the 2 percent pay roll tax was added back in to the paycheck. Now I will receive another 40 dollar raise but water rates going up , health care went up and va power just said they raising rates 4 percent. So how am I helped mike. I loose money in my paycheck again. The last compensation study help some but screed others. I’m not in the 700 employees getting big pay. I know some employees who get nothing . We all should get raise not just some. One percent I rather have in my retirement than paycheck . After taxes one percent pennies.

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  • 7l

    The math at $15 per hour
    .01•15=.15 per hour
    .15•40=$6 weeKly
    Subtract approx 1.20 for taxes
    Net=4.80.
    Do they really think the price of a happy meal will make anyone happy?

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    • TheDP87

      As a result of the so called “raise”, happy meals will go up in price too.

      So really it’s a lose lose.

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  • http://mikeduman.com mike

    Let’s not forget the implementation of the second phase of the classification and compensation study will have a positive impact on 702 employees. Those adjustments, even at 1/3, provide up to a 9% increases in pay. The 1% cost of living increase is in addition and applies to all employees.

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    • Lovebug

      A positive impact it will have IF that second phase of the compensation study doesn’t just inflate the City Managers paycheck. You see Mr. Duman NOT having a raise is not the only issue here. The fact that when raises should have been given and could have been given a pay study was done and the City Manager’s pay was inflated to an amount that is MORE than what the Gov of this STATE makes. How is that? I would like to know how you truly feel about that. Do YOU feel our SUFFOLK City Manager should be making more than the Gov of this State? I would bet if you are honest your answer will be NO. Its very nice for everyone to say how much they appreciate the Police Officers, Fire Fighters, and Teachers of this city however, when they go year after year with nothing but a 1% raise when health care has gone up, cost of living has gone WAY up, and omg don’t get me started on the Water/HRSD bill constantly going up as if were piping in water from the Sahara Desert and then to make matters worse the City Manager of Suffolk gets her very contested back door pay inflation not counting other members of her staff. Its simply sad. For the life of me I don’t understand how City Employees sat through a state of the City performance listening to how well the city is doing and NOT throw up. Its discusting and insulting for any City Employee to sit through that spill while many are seriously hurting due to their lack of pay and costs going up all around them. Sadly many in the City of Portsmouth make way more than the employees of the City of Suffolk and they do a much better job than many Portsmouth employees. Its beyond time someone start standing up to these back door bum deals!

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      • http://mikeduman.com mike

        The comprehensive study DOES NOT affect the City Manager, City Assessor, City Attorney or City Clerk.

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      • Lovebug

        And I’m sure when its all said and done it won’t effect those its meant to effect unless someone with a backbone stands up and does what is right. You know as well as I do Mike that there are many things wrong in this city when it comes to the proper decisions being made. I know you realize our Police Dept just received accreditation something that only 5% of depts in this country are lucky enough to have. The work that went into this from the top all the way down was incredible. Our City Manager and Mayor can only “thank” the employees of this City for doing the job they do with so little pay but so much before the good people we have here start telling them both to pound sand and move on to Cities who truly use their tax dollars to assure the hard workers are being paid as they should. The City Manager and her staff are NOT the only employees who are working hard. I don’t believe any of them are living in a house or apartment with 2 or 3 other people. I do however know of Police Officers as well as teachers who are having to do just that in order to make it. Their dedication to this City should be enough to give them what they deserve and its certainly more than 1% that won’t even cover the water increase.

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    • melburnor

      Please explain, Mr. Duman, why the city has enough to fund a compensation study yet can’t fully fund the school budget? Take the money from the study and release it to the schools where it’s needed. We don’t need a study to show we’re underpaid, that is common knowledge. I’m glad that you all are going to “tighten it down” for the city employees–does the CM get another 1% as well? Making $180,000 a year BASE salary isn’t satisfactory? Oh, and teachers aren’t city employees so we’re still shafted. Shocker.

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      • http://mikeduman.com mike

        The cost to fund this phase of the study is approximately $870,000.00. The City provided an additional $920,000.00 to the school system above last years funding. I believe it takes about $1 million dollars to fund each percent of raise for all school personnel. The City is also going to provide up to $70,000.00 to the school system to order a compensation study, which includes benefits. Obviously teachers are underpaid, especially those with 6-15 years tenure. Because they are significantly more underpaid than most other positions, including administrative and support staff there is no realistic ‘across the board’ raise that could be implemented.

        The compensation study, like the one performed for the city, will determine the market value of each position so it can be addressed individually and funded accordingly. For example a teacher with 8 years service could currently be getting paid $42,000.00 and should be $46,000.00 (requiring approximately a 10% increase). An administrative position paying $48,000.00 may already be at market value or call for a much lower increase to be competitive.

        Once it is determined the total dollars required to bring compensation to the desired level a strategic plan would be implemented to fund. Funding can come from internal savings and savings through combining services. Any shortfall would have to come from the City (taxpayer) contribution. This could be phased in, as the city is doing, as funds become available.

        I tenable plan of this nature could provide teachers with the compensation they deserve and ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Keep in mind this situation was not created overnight and it will not be solved overnight. Also bear in mind that the school system has complete latitude to prioritize their own funding.

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    • am

      You can have all of the studies that you so desire Does it mean that the teachers will actually get the pay increases that the study will indicate?

      NO.

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      • jhuxster

        The “we’re going to pay for a study” demonstrates how foolishly this council decides to spend money. We have a bloated government in this city with a large human resources department. If they want to do a study go on line and search for the various city’s websites for pay information. Heck I did that for Portsmouth this week for their teachers–they start at $42,000 a year. It didn’t cost me anything but a few moments time. Just more tax dollars being wasted by people who don’t understand the value of a dollar–and it’s not their money they are spending.

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    • gs

      Whatever happen to the problems in the assessor’s office?

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    • 7l

      I don’t think you understand the level of anger and animosity that has been generated by the politically inept handling of the city and the school system. Regardless of the city manager’s level of pay compared with the other city manager’s in the area was it really the right time for a large increase in her salary while most city employees had seen little to nothing for years. Did you really think scheduling their raises at 1/3 of the adjustment for 1/2 of the employees would not anger people. Did you really think that teachers would not view this partial raise for city employees a slap in the face? Do you really think that telling teachers to hang on a little longer while the city does yet another study to determine that they are at the bottom of the labor market will mitigate their anger? The schools are in a free fall while school administrators are given raises. The percentage of schools with accreditation issues has risen, the number of teachers leaving this system is amazing to watch and will most likely be worse this year. These actions taken by the city council, the city manager, the school board, and school administration are not going to be forgotten for a very long time by Suffolk’s public employees. You will not be able repair this damage with a half hearted attempt at equity. The damage was done when the interests of Suffolk’s ruling oligarchy (who benefitted financially from the library deal?)was put before the citizens and the employees of Suffolk. Frankly, without the dismissal of key administrative positions the rebuilding of the trust needed to create positive results by city employees and teachers will not be reestablished. In my view that should be your role yet you continue to defend these inept political actions. Why?

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    • Jim

      More tax dollars wasted on studies that will NOT be fulfilled!! I for one hoped that you’d help the city, Mr. Duman. I was fooled. The last study done for the city, in which the 2nd phase of the 3 tier slap in the face will not be implemented until January, wasn’t implemented correctly. Let’s not forgot that the “raises” were NOT at the levels or amounts that the study recommended. Furthermore, to “fix” compression, numerous public safety salaries (for new promotions etc) where lowered!! That’s right, LOWERED. And why wait until December and January?? The city will never get a AAA bond rating until they fix this. By the time you try it will be too late. You will be short handed and the public sector of the city will be a joke because all your experienced teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc will be GONE!!! Sure, there’s always people who want a city job, but you’ll get what you pay for. RETENTION!! Council needs to learn that word and try to apply it to the work force and forget it in many upper-management positions of this city. My hope is that we don’t retain any of the seats up-for-grabs this year!!

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  • sillysal

    I would have loved to have seen their faces when they settled on this HEFTY (raise????). I bet the smirks were a mile wide. ” Well, so much for that. We’ve quieted them until next year”, And they all went on their merry way.

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  • nynative

    According to the Social Security Administrations cost of living adjustment scale, since 2008 the cost of living has risen approximately 14.9%. Since 2008 city employees have received a 2.0% increase in pay. By no means am I a math professor but I think they are making less now than they were six years ago. Add on top of that their insurance costs more, benefits slashed, minimum/dangerous staffing levels, zero tolerance for overtime and in increase in workload, I can see why employees are leaving in drones. At least the upper crust got their 20% pay increases. And people ask my why I don’t move to Suffolk…LOL.

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  • Lovebug

    Any raise is a good thing however, 1% will not even cover the increase that is taking place with the water bill and the increase in health coverage. Sadly the bandage isn’t going to help a whole lot.

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  • TheDP87

    13 cent an hour is not called a raise. It’s a slap in the face of the workers in this city. So again, I’m going to lose even more from my check when healthcare costs go up. This raise will do nothing for retention. Workers are leaving for other cities in flocks. I’m going to soon be one of them.

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