Council passes 5 percent employee raise
The Russellville city council unanimously approved a 5 percent cost-of-living raise for city employees during its meeting Thursday night.
"I know this is known as a cost-of-living raise but it probably won't bring everyone up to where they would like to be," District 2 Councilman David Kennedy said.
Craig Grissom, councilman for District 1, credited the city's steady tax base for the COLA raise.
"Our sales tax revenue is holding firm right now, or we wouldn't have been able to give a raise this year," Grissom said. "The downturn nationally hasn't hurt us locally as far as tax revenue, and I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the national economy.
"Our city employees are all hard-working people, and I'm proud that we've gotten their pay up – we've raised it 30 to 40 percent over the last eight years – and they're still underpaid."
Mayor Johnny Brown, who has been a councilman, department head or mayor for the past 20 years, said the economic uncertainty poses a challenge for the all-new council, which takes office Nov. 3 and includes five rookie council members and a first-time mayor.
"I'm proud of how the council has worked together to move this town forward by increasing sales tax revenue and bringing in several businesses and companies," Brown said. "And we have done a lot of infrastructure improvement and project work, including renovating City Lake Park.
"The greatest challenge for the new council are the hard economic times, and I hope and pray that it changes soon."
The council also designated Oct. 30 as the city's official night for trick-or-treating instead of the traditional date because it falls on a Friday this year.
"Some churches have requested that we move (the holiday)," District 5 Councilman Thomas "Tink" Malone said. "A lot of people will be out of town Friday night, and I feel like if we had it Friday night, then there would be a lot of houses vacant in the city."
In other business, the council: