City council approves raises for employees now, looks to cover c - Tucson News Now

City council approves raises for employees now, looks to cover costs later

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tucson's boys in blue can expect to see more green, many with a five percent increase, which is the first pay raise in at least six years for many Tucson Police officers.

"The city is now prioritizing and recognizing that they have good employees and that they want to keep those good employees from going to other cities and other agencies," said Officer Bill Bonanno, president of the Tucson Police Officers Association.

Tucson police officers and firefighters aren't alone.  City council approved a fifty-five cent an hour increase for civilian employees.  But there are concerns about problems down the road.

"We're very happy about it.  But we're also upset about the fact that this could affect the budget in 2015 because the city faces a fiscal cliff and all these debts are coming due," said Matthew Cline, executive director of AFSCME Local 499.

"If we don't give them a raise and they quit, that's one way you're going to lose people.  If you do give the raise and you lay them off or furlough, you still lost them," said Ward Six councilmember Steve Kozachik.

Kozachik was the only one who voted against the raises because the city still hasn't figured out how to cover the $11 million cost next fiscal year.  He said that raises now could lead to cutbacks or layoffs later.

And he pointed out that aging equipment such as police cars and paramedic trucks need to be replaced.

But Ward One councilmember Regina Romero said that the city had to make this move, and will find a way to balance out the budget somehow.

"If you talk about a list of unmet needs, then I would suggest you include city employees on that list of unmet needs because we are struggling, to tell you truth in recruiting and retaining people," she said.

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