Public Works Dept. employees denied pay raise

The Town of Jonesboro Public Works Department employees won’t be getting a pay raise. The reason? They just got one last year. That was what Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson told those in attendance, many who were the same employees hoping to hear their financial position would improve. 

Thompson opened the agenda item discussion by stating that even though this was on the agenda of the Board of Aldermen meeting held on Tuesday that the decision was his and not the Town Council’s. He went on to say that there was no way that he could approve a pay raise at this point when the town was in the financial condition it was. 

“It wouldn’t be in the towns best interest at point,” said Thompson. “I can’t in good conscious approve a pay raise that with our current financial condition can’t be sustained over the next several years.”

Thompson further stated that everyone knew that the town couldn’t give raises and bringing it up again after he had already had declared last month no raises would be given was just playing politics. 

“There are some people who wanted this on the agenda again so I would be forced to say in a public forum that they wouldn’t be getting a raise simply to try and make me look like the bad guy,” said Thompson. ‘I’m am not going to play politics just because an election is coming up. I have already given these employees a raise just last year and we can’t do it again this year.”

This led to further bantering by board members, the Mayor and Public Works Department Director Calvin Wortham over the role that being able to read the broken water meters that are all over town would play. 

“If the Board would have agreed to purchase new water meters three years ago when  it was first proposed we wouldn’t be in this position today,” reasoned Thompson.

Board of Aldermen representative Robbie Siadek then reminded Thompson that what was being proposed was electronic meters which had never worked in the first place and they couldn’t afford them at the time.

“You are right by saying if we had purchased meters back then we wouldn’t always be in financial trouble,” said Siadek. “But that is if we had purchased manually read meters like I suggested.”

More back and forth followed until Wortham then attempted to get the meeting back on track by stating that they weren’t here to talk about meters but rather or not the employees would get a raise. Approval of the July bills and financial followed. 

Board members Devin Flowers, Nia Evans Johnson, Siadek, Pete Stringer and James Ginn then went into executive session where they could discuss the Stringer vs Town of Jonesboro lawsuit. After returning a motion was made for Mayor Thompson to authorize special counsel to meet with the attorney for Renee Stringer to hold a settlement meeting. Mayor Thompson was also approved to authorize a settlement offer based on what was proposed in Julyby a 3-2 vote with Flowers, Johnson and Saidek giving approval Stringer and Ginn voted against the move. At that point Ginn left the meeting.

Isreal Smith and Sirena Jackson was then approved to be moved from part time to full time per the request of Jonesboro Police Chief James “Spike” Harris. In final action, Janice Simmons, who has been seving the town as Deputy Clerk was voted to be named Town Clerk. 


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