Columbus council demands city employees pay back raises

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- More than a dozen city employees are being told to pay back recent pay raises by the end of the year.

Tuesday night, Columbus City Council directed City Manager Isaiah Hugely to rescind raises given to 16 Department Heads and City Managers.

The controversy began during an executive session on August 9th.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley appointed a new Parks and Recreation Director.

Council compared the new starting salary of $88,000 with the existing Directors pay.

Columbus City Councilor Judy Thomas said, "The City Manager granted the raises, calculated the raises and was granted the raises, but did not come back before city council."

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says the cure for the problem is taking the money back that was already received.

The 16 Department Heads and Directors have until the end of the year to pay it back.

Tomlinson said, "One of the most demoralizing things that I can imagine and we take the blame that this came about because we have to. We are the ones who run the ship day to day."

Tomlinson says some Council Members thought the pay raises would solve the issue of newer employees coming in at a higher rate than current employees are paid.

"A solution to a long term problem and it wasn't handled with the process that we are used to in this community. Certainly wasn't illegal it just wasn't our best practices," said Tomlinson.

At the end of Tuesday's City Council meeting a motion was passed to reduce the amount of Hugley's discretionary spending from $25,000 to $10,000 that will have to be voted on as an ordinance at a later date.

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