RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Riviera Beach workers are demanding answers focused on a new deal for the city manager. In a three to two vote, the city council approved a new two-year contract with Ruth Jones. Some city workers, though, question the fairness and timing of the deal.
Jones was in line for a 9 percent raise on her $160,500 salary, which would raise her pay to about $175,000.
But some city workers say that would be unfair to them. "We're living paycheck to paycheck," said Emory Hampton, who has worked for the city's water department for a decade.
"We don't think it's fair." Hampton said he is watched as potential raises in recent years went down the drain. "I feel it's a slap in the face for us," he said. "We've been dedicated. We've been here every day. We've agreed and made sacrifices for the benefit of the city."
"I want to give the employees as much as I can, said Cedrick Thomas, Chairperson of the Riviera Beach City Council. "I have been an employee here. I want that to happen. And I will continue to stay like I always have," he said to a packed council chambers on Wednesday evening.
More than two hours into the council meeting, there was compromise of sorts on Jones' contract. Instead of a 9 percent raise for a two-year contract, councilors and Jones agreed to a 5 percent raise for the first year and an additional 3 percent raise for the second year. That equates to annual salaries of $168,525 and then $173,340.
"This is just not the time or the season for this," said Mayor Thomas Masters as he spoke with workers outside council chambers.
Mayor Masters and some city workers say this done deal was done at the wrong time. "Morale is kind of down already," said Hampton. "It has been down since furloughs kicked in. And this is just going to kick it down even further."
The Riviera Beach City Manager's new salary falls in line - if not below - city managers across Palm Beach County. The new Riviera Beach contract goes into effect October 1.