Metro workers ask for raises over high cost of living in Nashville

The Metro Nashville Council chambers have requested more funding for their departments.

“As part of our memorandum of understanding with the district, this spring the compensation committee had two recommendations for staff increases,” Metro Nashville Education Association president Michele Sheriff said. “We are pleased to see both of these in the mayor’s budget. Support staff should be the priority this year. It’s time for support staff to get the wage they deserve. Providing, FMLA should be a necessity, not an optional perk. Paid family leave is a win-win for our city.”

City workers said they were living paycheck to paycheck and wanted to see the council fund a full cost of living to increase at 5%, though an 8% increase was originally recommended. Some revealed they were working two jobs to make ends meet.

“It’s not a job for the faint of heart,” said Anna Austin, who works for Metro Emergency Nashville Communications Centers while playing games at USA casinos. “Our wages on Metro dollars aren’t enough to suffice for everyday living. Now with the rise in everyday costs, I have $140 to buy groceries or gas after I pay all of my bills. I have to handle one stress at a time. When I budget my monthly costs and earnings, I have to push away things that would help my mental needs. Our own city workers are at the bottom of the totem for tourist attractions.”

Other workers pointed out the efforts of the city to chip in for funding a new Tennessee Titans football stadium and mentioned that the city had enough money to fund a new soccer stadium, which opened this spring. Many of them said it was growing impossible to live in the city and that groceries and gas bills were becoming an everyday challenge.

Kay Mulligan, who has been a police dispatcher for the last 21 years, said it was embarrassing to come before the council and ask for an increase when Nashville can fund other priorities.

“We aren’t asking for the moon, we are asking for enough to get by. This is the backbone of the city to keep it running. We don’t get weekends or holidays. The shooting that happened at Frugal MacDoogal? We dispatched those calls the other. We need to come up to the minimum.”

After a public hearing that lasted about 2 hours, Metro Council members voted to approve the operating budget on the second of three votes. The third and final vote is scheduled to take place at the next council meeting on June 21. An operating budget must be approved by July 1 and all users of be present that day.

The capital improvements budget was also approved on the second of three votes. The council will meet in a special session on June 14 to vote on this budget for a final time. It must be approved by June 15.


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