City Commission Rejects Employee Raises

The Benton Harbor City Commission has rejected a pay increase for city employees in the AFSCME union. At a Monday meeting, Commissioner Juanita Henry said the 2% pay increase that was negotiated with the union might put a strain on the budget. She wanted to be sure of its effects before taking action.

“It’s not that we’re depreciating their services, it’s just to make sure that the city stays solvent,” Henry said.

Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats said he wanted a pay increase for staff to come with a mechanism for making sure the employees are actually working.

“I want some kind of work incentive-based thing, too, so they can prove that they’re working.”

City Manager Darwin Watson said the 2% raise for the eight employees affected would cost the city about $1,700, which was already factored into the budget. The pay increase was shot down on a five to four vote.