With the economy in the doldrums, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey wants to give city employees a $1,000 annual pay increase in his upcoming budget.

The boost, which still must be discussed by City Council, would give the biggest benefit to employees at the lower end of the city's pay scale, a group Summey said needs to be rewarded the most.

"I think it's a statement to our employees that we're trying to look out for them," Summey said.

Money for the increase would come from the end of a three-year lease-purchase contract of public safety radio equipment. The contract is expiring, freeing up the extra cash.

Summey said he opted against returning the money to taxpayers as a rebate, saying the payment would be minimal when compared with the benefits of rewarding employees in a sour economy.

Read more in tomorrow's Post and Courier.