Police and fire union leaders aren’t happy mayor didn’t include raises in his budget

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Police and fire union leaders have a big problem with the budget Mayor Jim Strickland has proposed to the council.

Strickland proposed his budget at the council meeting Tuesday, and pay raises weren't his priority.

"We can't do it every year. I wish we could. With only a $10 million increase in revenue, it was tight," he said.

Thomas Malone with the Memphis Firefighter Association said he's not surprised.

"I hear the mayor say, do you think you oughta get a raise every year? Well let`s see. Groceries go up every year. The insurance the city controls goes up every year," said Malone. "What is going on in this city is sad."

"We have a lot harder job to do here as a police officer, and we are getting paid less than average," said Matt Cunningham with the Memphis Police Association.

He said without proper pay, it will be hard to recruit and retain officers.

"We've also lost healthcare benefits and retirement benefits over the last several years which we are trying to make up," he said.

"Since January 1 of 2016, police and fire have gotten a combined 6-7.8 percent pay increase over two plus years, which is significant," said Strickland.

"He says six years, but let's go 12 years and see exactly what they've had," said Malone.

"Before we got the raise in 2016, police officers in Memphis hadn't had a raise in the previous 7 years," said Cunningham.

The council can still add raises.

The mayor said it will cost $4.4 million to give a one percent raise to all city employees.

His budget focuses on street paving, community centers, youth programs, parks and more police recruits.

The council has to vote on the budget by the end of June.