• Officials weigh in on controversy over pay raises for West Memphis city employees

    By: Siobhan Riley


    WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. - There is a lot of controversy over pay raises for West Memphis city employees.  

    The mayor said police and firefighters could earn anywhere from 7.5 to more than 9 percent. Other departments could get raises too.   

    They decided to table the discussion because five council members did not show up. 

    Mayor Marco McClendon said he believes council could have made a decision even though some were absent. 

    “We have put this before the council and the time was today,” said McClendon.

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    “This proposed budget just came to us a week ago,” said councilmember James Pulliaum.

    “We’ve known about this since January 1,” McClendon said.

    McClendon and Pulliaum did not see eye to eye during the discussion about city pay raises.   

    “I don’t care how long you’ve been working on it. I’m just telling you when it comes to us, we had no idea,” Pulliaum stated. 

    McClendon is proposing about a 9 percent increase for paramedics and at least 7.5 percent for police and fire crews.  

    He told FOX13 council seemed to like the idea of raises for public safety but not for other departments. He’s requesting 5-12 percent for department heads in other areas. 

    “I’m very disappointed, there’s no big eyes and big ears, we’re all one family in West Memphis. We don’t want to approve other services for other park and recreation, airport and other departments that need raises, but you want to approve one part and then don’t approve the other,” he explained.

    Councilmembers said they want to postpone the discussion because five council members did not show up.

    FOX13 asked the mayor if he thinks that has anything to do with councilmembers possibly avoiding this topic. 

    “I’m not going to throw anything out there like that,” he said. 

    Fire Chief Dennis Brewer said the average firefighter makes about $35,000 a year and raises are well overdue.

    “We’re losing a lot of employees because we’re not competing with the other surrounding cities,” McClendon said. 

    If the raises get approved, this will be the city’s largest raise package for city workers.

    There are 65 firefighters and about 87 police officers. If approved, this would impact about 150 city employees.

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