Before COVID-19, Chattanooga was set to increase minimum wage to $15 to match market

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / The Chattanooga Municipal Building and Chattanooga City Hall

City employees were going to see a new minimum wage and other pay increases in fiscal year 2021, in light of a compensation study that showed disparities between Chattanooga and comparable markets, but will instead be placed on a pay freeze as the COVID-19 pandemic strains the city budget.

"When the coronavirus crisis hit, we were actually finalizing our employee compensation study and had every intention of implementing its recommendations in this next budget year," Chief Operating Officer Maura Sullivan said by email.

"Our first step was going to be bringing all city employees up to a $15 minimum wage. Unfortunately, revenue shortfalls mean we have to make some incredibly difficult choices. The decision to hold all city personnel salaries at their current levels is one of those choices."

In a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday, human resources director Beverly Moultrie said that the highly anticipated study confirmed what some city employees and council members had feared: Chattanooga underpays many employees, by the comparisons used.