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City Increases Salaries, Electric Customer Charge Increases

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

HENDERSON COUNTY, Tenn.- Lexington city leaders approved a pay raise for utility workers Thursday that will increase utility bills.

After a heated debate and salary survey, Lexington Mayor Tim Pierce voted with the Board of Aldermen to increase all city employee salaries by 3.6 percent.

Mayor Pierce said city leaders are currently trying to fix problems that were created years ago.

"We have to go back and fix a lot of the problems that we inherited; it's not like we have all of this excess money," said Pierce. "We are fixing problems that should have been fixed 10 to 15 years ago."

The new board approved budget includes an increase equaling $12 more a year for residential homeowners and $60 more a year (or $5 more a month) for commercial properties. Some residents said the customer charge increase is not fair.

"Oh I'm totally against that," said resident Clint Cole. "My electric bill is high enough and I'm not home half the time."

"This extra money they want to take from us could go towards benefit our kids, think about our kids and all the single parents," said resident Marshay Parker. "Dollars count when you don't have any."

Electric officials said the increase is necessary to help replenish more than half a million dollars spent on storm damage earlier this year. The customer charge increase will generate more than $400,000 dollars a year that will go toward regular maintenance work and employee salaries.

"You know the employees with today's economy are raising families and everybody needs an increase in salary," said resident Peggy LeCroy. "But also it's hard for everybody."

Lexington Gas and Water System's also had its 2013-2014 budget approved during the meeting which includes a 3.6 percent raise and a $500 Christmas bonus for all workers. Officials said the raises are coming out of the general tax budget fund and require no tax increase.

Mayor Pierce said the last time Lexington Electric customers saw a significant increase was in 2008.
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