After three years of seeing their pay stay the same, city of Charleston employees may expect a 3 percent increase next year, as well as a bonus early next month.
Meanwhile, city taxpayers won't see a property tax increase or other tax increases as part of Mayor Joe Riley's proposed $132.5 million spending plan.
City Council unanimously agreed to give full-time employees a one-time $250 bonus, while part-time employees will receive $150. They will be paid in early December.
The approximately $400,000 expense is possible because the city saved $600,000 to $700,000 this year by having a soft hiring freeze, one where the city only slowly fills vacant posts, Riley said.
City Council members applauded the bonuses. Councilman Mike Seekings asked if council members would get them, too, and Riley replied, "Y'all aren't included, but everybody else is."
Riley said the rest of the savings will be put toward the city's undesignated fund balance, which has grown to almost $19 million and is one reason why the city has obtained top credit ratings.
The mayor presented a draft budget to City Council this week, and council members are expected to take their first vote on it Dec. 6. Final approval is set for Dec. 20, or 11 days before the city's next fiscal year begins.
The 2012 budget priorities include higher amounts for fuel, health care and worker's comp payments. It also calls for saving $3.5 million by continuing the hiring slowdown.
The budget also includes a 5.7 percent increase for police, or $2.1 million, and a 2.7 percent increase for the fire department, or $591,000.