Development digs up cashPublished 9:53am Monday, September 17, 2012
An increase in sales tax revenue thanks to new development has given the city’s coffers enough of a boost that the council was able to give city employees raises for the first time in almost five years.
Mayor Howard Shell, whose official retirement is just a few weeks away, said city workers have been getting Christmas bonuses most of the years raises were not fiscally possible, but added the council was delighted to be able to grant the increases this year.
“It’s always a good thing when you can do that,” Shell said. “Everyone very pleased. No one is upset when they are able to get a raise.”
Shell said the raises are for city workers across the board and are termed “step raises” due to the fact that each employee’s increase is contingent on the salary he or she currently draws. Overall, Shell said the raises will be somewhere between 3 and 5 percent and are the byproduct of increased revenue for the city over the last year.
“Things are beginning to look up just a little bit,” he said. “We’ve not given a raise in about five years. Normally we wait until the end of the year. We’ve been waiting to see what our revenue was and this year it shows enough revenue increase that we felt we could give a raise, which counts towards their retirement a little more so than a Christmas bonus does.”
Shell said the city’s ability to grant the raises is a good sign for everyone.
“The economy is picking up and businesses are doing better,” Shell said. “It’s just a combination of those things and we put it all together in a pot and it looks a little better than it did last year.”
Have recent additions to Atmore’s Rivercane development property played a part in this year’s upswing? Shell says “absolutely.”
“Hampton Inn has come on line. McDonald’s has come on line and Waffle house will be coming online,” he said. “They are bringing in new revenue that’s coming from interstate traffic primarily.”
Shell said he is not yet sure exactly how much of a revenue increase the city has seen over the last fiscal year, which ends Monday, Oct. 1, but added he is certainly looking forward to seeing the positive numbers.
“We haven’t completed the budget yet this year, but we’ll be putting that out shortly.”
Overall, Shell’s message concerning the raises was simple.
“It’s a good thing,” he said. “Hopefully we can do it again next year.”