BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It has been a long time coming. That is what advocates of a pay raise for city-parish government employees are telling the Baton Rouge Metro Council.
"This is something that we have been pursuing for a long time. And I am glad that we are about to get some closure on it," said Herman Addison, a DPW employee.
The council unanimously approved across the board raises for police, fire and DPW Wednesday night. That vote includes adding six new departments to DPW, a measure approved by voters in December.
Mayor-President Kip Holden praised council members.
"You all have looked out for the best interests of some of the hardest working employees any government could ever have," said the mayor.
"It's not what I would have wanted, but it's a start," said Councilwoman Denise Marcelle.
Across Downtown at the Capitol, 1,000 state troopers got a 20 percent raise back in January.
It's been eight years since BRPD got a raise, 7.5 percent in 2007. Now, police say a two-percent hike is better than nothing.
"It's a step in the right direction. We feel that the city negotiated in good faith as did we and we reached an agreement that all parties can live with at this point," said Sgt. Chris Stewart, representing the Baton Rouge Union of Police.
Workers will also now see three percent pay increases built into their salary every year until they max out at the highest level of pay for their job.
Pay raises will cost $4.9 million for the rest of this year and $6.6 million next year. A little less than half of the money is expected to come from the current budget. The rest is expected to come from new appropriations.
"We should bring people up to the comparable wages that they deserve, but this is a great start," said Councilwoman Marcelle.
"Hopefully, we can get a better percentage next time because this is not something that we're going to leave alone," said Addison of DPW.