City workers demand automatic pay raise, some council members say no

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.(WVLT) Tuesday night's Knoxville city council meeting resulted in city employees still receiving an automatic pay raise, but not without some debate among council members.

Councilman Nick Della Volpe said he wants to make a change to a law that's been instituted since 1981, which says city workers will automatically receive a 2.5% pay raise every year.

"I don't think it should be on automatic pilot," Della Volpe explained.

Firefighters, police officers, first responders, and other city workers disagree.

"I can tell you, as an employee with the city of Knoxville, I am certainly not looking to break the bank," Captain Kevin Faddis with the Knoxville Fire Department explained.

Faddis and several others argued that the 2.5% increase still isn't equal to the cost of living increase every year, and the constant increase still hasn't put Knoxville on par with several other local city worker salaries.

They say that the low pay makes it tough to want to stay in Knoxville, knowing that surrounding towns and cities offer more pay.

Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis said that the motion to quit the automatic payment should be dropped, because it costs too much to train new employees if an employee quits.

"If we take this 2.5% away, we're going to get further and further behind," Pavlis said.

The motion failed to pass by a vote of 6 to three by the council, but Faddis said this will not be the end of the discussion. He feels the topic will come up again, and they'll be back to fight for their pay.

"You pay for what you get. It it what it is, and I hate it. But I can tell you the citizens of Knoxville, they're well served by the fire department, the police department, and the general service workers. I can tell you that for a fact," Faddis said.

Councilman George Wallace proposed Mayor Rogero be the one to decide who gets a raise and when, but Rogero said that was a responsibility she didn't feel she needed to take on.

"I'm not asking for this authority, I'm not asking for you to change what we have now. So I would ask that you not support this," Rogero said to the council.

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