You’ll have your first chance tonight (Monday) to testify about Columbia city manager De’Carlon Seewood’s proposed $506-million budget.
City employee pay is one of Mr. Seewood’s top priorities. His budget blueprint includes a four percent across-the-board pay raise for city employees, along with a one percent increase for top performers.
“You know this public hearing is an opportunity for residents to come in and let us know is this how they want our budget to look? Is this what they want to see us fund?” Seewood says.
Mr. Seewood tells 939 the Eagle that the pay raises are critical for recruitment and retention, saying he wants to make the city of Columbia “the employer of choice” here. The city has about 1,500 employees, which includes about 200 vacancies.
Public safety and fire protection are also key elements in Mr. Seewood’s proposed $506-million budget. It includes funding for construction of a new fire station near Scott Boulevard and Route K in southwest Columbia, along with money for 12 new firefighters to staff the station.
“The southern part of our town is the fastest-growing part of our community. And so the opportunity to provide fire service is to ensure that we’ll have those good standard times, so if there is an emergency our services are there,” says Seewood.
His budget would increase staffing for Columbia Police, including money for three airport safety officers, a new police sergeant and a crime scene investigator.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 7.