Written By Christina Williams
City workers have not received a raise in over six years in Elizabeth City. Yet the Elizabeth City City Council has voted to give themselves a raise and City Manager Montre Freeman is set to go from 140K to 156K making him the highest paid City Manager in Elizabeth City’s history.
At least one City Council member, Jeannie Young, did not accept the raise increase because she said she couldn’t accept the money knowing that city workers need it.
While the city is sitting on over 2.5 million dollars in federal funds given to us because of the State of Emergency they are telling the workers that the money cannot be used for salaries, only for bonus pay. This is not in any of the stipulations however placed on these funds by the government. Rules about how to spend these funds have not been clarified but so far the city has been told that the funds can be spent in any way deemed necessary by the City Council.
The City Council has convinced the public that in order for these city workers to receive raises that a 10-cent tax hike per $100 is necessary for all citizens to pay on their property taxes. The tax hike would wind up paying for the proposed increases in the City Council and City Manager’s salaries as well as to pay for a 95k salary for a new assistant for the City Manager. They are trying to use the city workers to convince everyone that the tax hike is needed. The city workers raises are needed, but the tax hike is not in order to give them that.
City workers are caught in the middle of the deceit going on and have decided they will use city vehicles to block the Municipal Building on Colonial Street until they receive a raise. They are essentially striking until they are considered essential enough to finally receive a fair increase.
According to one worker, the pay is so low being given to the workers by the city that after working 70-80 hours a week with the city some of them have to work additional jobs. At least one Class A licensed worker who performs the specially trained task of operating the crane arm for the sanitation department is homeless due to being underpaid.
In addition to the lower pay, workers say their health insurance does not allow their spouses on the insurance, only their children, but workers are forced into paying a high premium for the insurance anyway.
City Council needs to use the money that has been given to us by the government to create appropriate increases in salary for all city workers who are underpaid instead of giving themselves another undeserved raise. There is absolutely no reason to raise taxes in Elizabeth City or to use city workers as political pawns to raise taxes.