published Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Cleveland, Tenn., city employees to get $700 holiday bonus

  • photo
    Mayor Tom Rowland stands in front of the shops of downtown Cleveland, Tenn.
    Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- All full-time city employees are getting a one-time $700 bonus just in time for Christmas.

The city could not afford raises again this year, City Manager Janice Casteel said two weeks ago when the proposal was made, but the budget did allow for the one-time bonus.

"This would be an increase of $600 in lieu of a raise," Casteel said. "This would be the equivalent of a one-time 1.5 percent COLA [cost-of-living adjustment] shared equally among full-time, 40-hour employees."

The City Council unanimously approved the extra bonus Monday. Workers usually get a $100 holiday bonus.

"I commend the council for doing that," Mayor Tom Rowland said. "We have people we talk to in here every day who do an outstanding job putting the city first."

The council also approved a $6 million gift to the city -- a four-story, former bank building on Raider Drive across from Cleveland High School. The offer was made a month ago by Life Care Centers of America founder Forest Preston.

Councilman Dale Hughes made the motion to accept the building if it comes with no restrictions, and he said he believed that would be the case.

"To my knowledge, the only restriction is the building can only be used for city offices," Rowland said.

Councilman Bill Estes said he could support Hughes' motion but wants to see something in writing that spells out there are no restrictions.

The Cleveland School Board has expressed an interest in the building.

"We have a great need for this building" as school system administrative offices, Councilman Avery Johnson noted. A visit to school system administrative offices reveals stacks of boxed files under and on every table, he said.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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