East Ridge to give workers bonuses; plan puts city into $100,000 hole

East Ridge to give workers bonuses; plan puts city into $100,000 hole

January 11th, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Local Regional News

East Ridge City Councilman Denny Manning

East Ridge City Councilman Denny Manning

Photo by Sean McRae Loftin

The East Ridge City Council voted to give all city employees a one-time bonus Thursday night, even though the move will set the city up to start the new fiscal year with a $100,000 deficit.

Councilman Denny Manning proposed the bonus, which will give a $600 one-time payment to full-time employees and a $500 one-time payment to part-time employees.

Councilman Marc Gravitt, Vice Mayor Jim Bethune and Manning voted in favor of the bonus. Mayor Brent Lambert and Larry Sewell voted against the bonuses.

The bonus will cost the city about $100,000, budget manager Diane Qualls said during the meeting. Because the raise wasn't budgeted for, the lump-sum payment will put the city into a deficit, City Manager Tim Gobble said.

"We will go into June with a $100,000 deficit in our budget," he told the council. "We will have to make that up."

The money for the bonus will come out of the city's general fund, which will fluctuate as the budget year ends, depending on the revenues the city collects. The city may -- or may not -- be able to cover the extra $100,000, he said.

One major expense the city still needs to collect is $1.4 million to pay for the city's sanitation program. Much of the money has not yet been collected -- but it should come in as residents pay their taxes, Qualls said.

Lambert said he voted against the bonus because he would rather address the issue when the new city budget is created in the spring.

"I'm in favor of giving the employees a raise, but I do think it would be a wiser course of action to wait a few months," he said.

Manning said he wanted to make sure the city employees received some sort of bonus and didn't want to wait until the new budget was created.