When Mayor Berke passed his budget for 2015, I was saddened to see that the city of Chattanooga employees would only receive a 1.5 percent raise. I am a city of Chattanooga employee and have been for seven years, I hold a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and only earn $30,298 a year. Every day I put my life in danger to enforce the city’s ordinances on code violations as a code enforcement officer for Public Works.
With a increase of 3.5 percent in healthcare cost, that 1.5 percent raise is pointless to the everyday worker at the city of Chattanooga. I understand that Mayor Berke is concerned about our youth in the streets, but how can our youth receive proper care if his employees are working second jobs to provide for their families.
Some may argue that, employees of the city receive better benefits than private companies, however that is not true. If the normal worker sign up for all the health benefits offered, that employee would not have any money left to live on.
The point I am making, is that Mayor Berke employees are on the verge of becoming homeless, many are seeking government subsidies just to make ends meet. My mother had to recently move in with my family because of the rise in cost of living and us not being able to afford to pay bills such as the light bill, which is another issue that needs to be addressed. Employees are literally taking on more assignments on the job and not being compensated properly.
For example, my job title is code enforcement inspector , however I am delivering garbage containers when we have a person assigned for that. Myself and other employees are taking on some supervisor's and manager's responsibilities while they are enjoying the monetary benefits from it.
The need to correct fair pay is beyond overdue, as I research other cities similar to Chattanooga, code enforcement inspectors should be making a minimum of $35,000 per year, and that’s entry level.
Mayor Berke has good intentions, however his intentions should focus a little more on his employees because we are the people who keep the agency running properly. Otherwise, his employees might as well join the homeless people on E.11th Street and live under the bridge.