Hattiesburg City Council passes 2022 budget

Includes pay raises for city employees
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 7:10 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Tuesday night Hattiesburg’s City Council approved the $155 million budget for 2022. The council heard the details of the budget in a public hearing on Aug. 31st.

Mayor Toby Barker says everyone worked very hard and made difficult and necessary choices to get the budget where it is.

“It’s always exciting to have a budget passed and I’m excited that we passed our fifth consecutive budget with a unanimous vote. I believe it continues our aggressive approach to infrastructure. We’re also taking steps for employees, and it continues to maintain that structural balance in our general fund budget. I’m excited about the future of our city, I’m excited about the projects that are on the horizon,” Barker says.

An important item to this administration is pay raises for city employees, and those raises are happening. Employees with the city expressed their thanks to the council and administration.

Deputy Director of the Water and Sewer Department Stephen Bullock explains what the pay raises mean to his employees.

“Well actually I started in the meter department years ago, back in the 90s, and it’s like a family tradition. My granddad worked for the city, my dad and now me,” Bullock explains. “It lets me know and the guys are working for the city to know that they are appreciated, and it means a lot to them. Cost of living is already hard, but you know what, the wage increase is great. It’s beneficial when it makes the guy’s morale extremely high.”

The minimum wage across the water and sewer department is now $15 dollars per hour. That rate is raised from about $13 per hour, depending on the job and experience.

Sworn fire personnel will get an annual step raise. Sworn police officers, code enforcement officers, and department directors will also get raises.

Sgt. Ashley Bice says she was always drawn to public service, watching her mother work the crime scene unit in the Hattiesburg Police Department.

“I really like to help people just kind of want to be that beacon of hope and somebody’s worst day,” Bice says.

Bice also expressed thanks to the city leaders for their dedication to keeping employee salaries competitive.

“We’re definitely appreciative of everything that you know the administration does to push for that. We want to be able to keep the quality officers that we have. And, as well as get new quality in,” Bice explains.

Public works and parks & recreation personnel will receive wage increases based on years of service as well.

Bullock and Bice say the best part of their jobs as city employees is working with the people of Hattiesburg.

“Honestly, it’s something different every day. You never know what the next call is gonna be, you never know who you’re gonna meet. Like I said before, being there, being that beacon of hope, hopefully, in somebody’s day to make their day a little better. And, and just be someone hopefully they know that they can call on,” shares Bice.

“Just every day is different when you do this job and the thing about it is you meet different systems every day, different personalities, different attitudes, and it’s just a thrill to be out and just deal with the public. It’s just a great honor to be with the citizens of Hattiesburg,” says Bullock.

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