ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque city employees would get a small pay raise and 160 new coworkers under a proposed budget Mayor Richard J. Berry unveiled Friday.
The document calls for a 1 percent pay increase for all city employees, the filling of 160 currently vacant positions and $3 million for ABQ the Plan, a development in the Albuquerque bosque.
Berry said the increase in spending is a result of the city tightening its belt over the last three years.
"The reason we are in the position were we can offer raises is because of difficult decisions we made in the first and second and third budgets," Berry said referring to the more than 2 percent pay cut imposed on all city employees in 2010. Some of the savings also comes from realigning resources and being efficient, he added.
Berry said the city has saved an estimated $14 million just making minor changes in each department.
The $3 million in the mayor's proposed budget replaces the money cut by city councilors for the project earlier this year. Councilors instead chose to appropriate the money to road repair and parks.
The proposed pay increase would apply to police officers and firefighters subject to contract negotiations, Berry said.
The city is still facing a lawsuit from the firefighters union over the 2.2 percent pay cuts in 2010, a year where they were scheduled to get a 6 percent pay increase under their contract.
"We don't view this as a raise," union President Diego Arencón said. "We view this as one step toward restoring base pay, which was unilaterally removed from our contract."
Arencón said he looks forward to heading back to the negotiating table.
"We are very aware and sympathetic to the economic climate and also understand that it is very important in retention and is critical in the issue of public safety," he said.
The proposed budget must still be approved by the city council and would cover the fiscal year that begins July 1.
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