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Columbia city manager De'Carlon Seewood prepares to deliver his budget message at city hall on July 13, 2023 (file photo from 939 the Eagle's Brian Hauswirth)

(AUDIO): City employee pay and benefits take center stage in Columbia city manager’s proposed budget

Columbia city manager De’Carlon Seewood prepares to deliver his budget message at city hall on July 13, 2023 (photo from 939 the Eagle’s Brian Hauswirth)

Columbia’s city manager has unveiled a $10-million pay raise plan for the city’s approximately 1,500 employees.

The pay increase was the cornerstone of De’Carlon Seewood’s budget message on Thursday afternoon at city hall. Mr. Seewood says increased pay is critical for city staff morale.

“Of that $10-million budgeted, $5-million will come from the general fund. Revenues from the use tax and marijuana sales tax will help ease the burden of additional expenses incurred as a result of some changes that we’re proposing in this budget,” Mr. Seewood says.

He is proposing a $533-million budget, up from the current $506-million. He says benefits are also crucial to recruiting and retaining city employees. He says Columbia will pay the entire 11 percent increase in premiums for city employee health insurance.

City manager Seewood also says sales tax revenues are growing, as the city continues to grow. He says  more than $40-million in sales taxes have already been collected this fiscal year.

“This is critical in providing the funding necessary to provide general services such as public safety and road maintenance,” says Seewood.

He says revenues are increasing by about two to three percent, while expenditures are increasing by about seven or eight percent.

The proposed $533-million budget is a $27-million increase from the current amount. That budget will be presented to Columbia’s city council Saturday morning during a 9 o’clock work session.

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