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Ocean Springs leaders approve one-time payment to employees

By Karen Nelson | Sun Herald | March 19, 2013

OCEAN SPRINGS -- City leaders approved a one-time $750 cost-of-living adjustment for full-time city employees who have been on the job for six months or more.

About 160 employees will receive the extra money in their paychecks, subject to taxes and retirement withholding.

"It's not a lot, but they deserve it," Mayor Connie Moran said Tuesday.

"I like the effort," one city employee said. "Something's better than nothing."

But the same employee pointed out the city hasn't given raises in more than three years and the adjustment doesn't account for an employee's time in service.

The Board of Aldermen approved the payment Tuesday night, but decided it also during the next 30 days would look at the possibility of giving a raise instead, though they said the chance is slim.

Moran said the last across-the-board raise was in fiscal year 2010, which began in 2009.

But during the same time, the city has cut its budget by 23 percent. Two years ago, the city eliminated 16 positions and in 2012, the Board of Aldermen considered furloughs, she said.

"We've done our part to cut the budget like any business would in the face of declining revenues and a weak economy," Moran said.

The city this year is living with a very conservative budget, she said, but so far it has been meeting its goals.

"Projected revenue and sales- and property-tax revenue are right on target," she said. "So we felt a little more comfortable giving a cost-of-living adjustment."

For one thing, Moran said Ocean Springs had more home sales in 2012 than Gulfport.

The adjustment will cost about the city $160,000. The funding came in part from the sale of new cemetery lots in historic Evergreen Cemetery and the city's water and sewer enterprise fund.

The one-time payment cost the city the equivalent of a 1.5 percent raise.

Public Works Director Andre Kaufman told the board, "On behalf of my folks, I'd like to thank you for the little bump. They are very excited."