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Abbeville Council approves raises

Employees with the City of Abbeville now know when they will receive their raises.
During Tuesday night’s regular meeting, the Abbeville City Council voted unanimously to approve the raises that will be funded by the sales tax that voters passed in May.
Members of the Abbeville Police Department and Abbeville Fire Department will receive what comes out to $500 per month beginning Jan. 2, 2020. Municipal employees will receive increases of $2 per hour beginning on Jan. 9.
Mayor Mark Piazza said the raises would be worked into the budget for the new year. The city’s fiscal year runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.
“Just like any other budget,” Piazza said, “it’s a struggle to make the dollars work and to put all these numbers together.
“We are going to make it work the best we can.”
The push for raises began earlier this year. Piazza said Chief of Police William Spearman played a role in getting the ball rolling.
“I want to thank the chief,” Piazza said. “He’s the one who spearheaded this way, way back. He had a shortage of personnel in his department. They badly needed raises.
“Hopefully, this will help out.”
Councilman Brady Broussard Jr. said he is pleased to be able to vote in favor of helping employees.
“This council and mayor values every employee for their contribution to the city,” Broussard said.
Broussard added that there are limits in how the city can apply raises.
“We work within a Civil Service system,” Broussard said, “that does not let this council do what we would like to do. While we would have liked to do more where the needs existed for hiring and retaining, Civil Service has limits on what we can do.
“We do hope that the adjustments that were done are appreciated and used in the best way.”
Voters made those adjustments possible by passing the half-cent sales tax on May 4. The sales tax, which is now 10.45%, went into effect on Oct. 1. It is expected to generate around $1.4 million annually. The cost of giving the raises will be around $1.1 million. Excess revenue from the sales tax will go into a fund that will cover the raises in the future.
“This will be sustained for a minimum of 11 years,” Piazza said, “according to the projections. It could be up to 20, but the minimum is 11 years.”

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