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Posted: Tuesday, January 21st 2014 at 7:35pm

Helen gives employees COLA, raises

By Rob Moore Editor
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HELEN - It will hit the general fund for about $22,500, but the Helen City Commission voted Tuesday to give city employees both an annual cost-of-living increase and a one-time raise, as it promised at budget time.

At budget discussions in June 2013, the commission contemplated giving raises and COLA later in the budget year if revenues were sufficient.

During Tuesday afternoon's meeting, the commission heard from City Manager Jerry Elkins that after the first six months of the budget year, revenues are 68.08 percent met, while revenues are at 53.25 percent.

Ideally, both revenues and expenditures would be at 50 percent at the end of six months, but Elkins said the fund balance for the current year is $95,515 (38 percent) higher than the previous year.

Total revenues for the first half of the 2013-2014 budget year were $1,578,582, compared to $1,440,524 for the same period the previous budget year, Elkins reported.

"Revenue for the general fund has exceeded our expectations," Elkins said.

Commissioner Fred Garmon said he felt any raises should be handled outside the cost-of-living adjustment, which for this year is 1.5 percent.

The commission voted to make the COLA effective Jan. 1 of each year at the current rate.

Commissioner Jeff Ash made a motion for the city to give a one-time, 2-percent raise effective Jan. 1. His motion was seconded by Commissioner Helen Wilkins, with the measure approved.

Both measures include City Manager Jerry Elkins.

Mayor Judy Holloway said she would like to see employee evaluations conducted so employees know what they're doing right and what needs improvement.

Elkins said those reviews were conducted prior to the new budget year.

Ash's motion was that the city would re-evaluate in a year whether it again could give some form of raises at that time.

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