Committee to review city payroll issues

·2 min read
Oak Ridge City Council member Chuck Hope talks to citizens after a meeting.
Oak Ridge City Council member Chuck Hope talks to citizens after a meeting.

The Oak Ridge City Council Compensation Plan Review Committee will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 7.

The meeting will be at the Oak Ridge Municipal Building's City Council Chambers, 200 S. Tulane Ave.

The new committee was formed to discuss payroll issues after City Council members, citizens and city employees from different departments, including the police department, the fire department, and public works criticized the city's current pay and pay structure.

The committee's members are City Council members Jim Dodson, Chuck Hope and Derrick Hammond. Oak Ridge City Council voted to create the committee at its June 15 meeting.

Derrick Hammond
Derrick Hammond
Jim Dodson
Jim Dodson
Chuck Hope
Chuck Hope

"This is substantive. This is important," Mayor Warren Gooch has said regarding the committee's upcoming payroll study. "I think it will take a considerable amount of time."

He added that the study will create benefits for the city and its employees.

The complaints from the public came at earlier meetings during discussions about the proposed budget, which was adopted for the current fiscal year.

"You hire bargain-basement police, you get bargain-basement response," said Brad Jenkins, a long-time Oak Ridge Police Department officer who became a captain in 2019.

“From what we get paid, it just doesn’t add up. I’m a single parent. Most of us at Public Works, we all have two jobs,” said Matthew Bunch, who works in the equipment shop for the Public Works Department. “I speak for all of us. We all have a dangerous job, and it is not right.”

“We’ve lost more people since 2011 in the Oak Ridge Fire Department than we have currently employed,” Austin Keathley, president of Oak Ridge Fire Fighter's Association, told Council, referring to people leaving the department.

Council has approved some raises and bonuses for city employees since these complaints were made.

All full-time regular employees on the city payroll as of June 11 received a net bonus of $1,000 from the city. All part-time regular city employees received a net $500 bonus. Seasonal and temporary employees did not get a bonus. Council approved a 5% across-the-board pay raise for city employees effective July 1. Some employees may see larger raises over the next fiscal year due to experience and evaluations.

Ben Pounds is a staff reporter for The Oak Ridger. Call him at (865) 441-2317, follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal.

This article originally appeared on Oakridger: Committee to review city payroll issues