Following Monday’s vote by the Atlanta City Council to give itself a pay raise of more than 50 percent, the wife of an Atlanta police officer has started a change.org petition urging Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to veto the pay increase and instead reward the city’s first responders.
Kelly Uhlis of Holly Springs is the wife of 12-year APD veteran, Sgt. Tommy Uhlis. She is angered that council members voted 10-4 to reward itself a pay increase from $39,473 a year to $60,300. If approved, it will take effect in January 2014.
Uhlis told Fox 5 that her husband’s pay was frozen by the same council that approved itself such a sizeable pay increase. When the officers did receive an increase for cost of living expenses, Uhlis said escalating health costs negated the bump in salary.
Through a spokesperson this week, the mayor communicated that he believes many members of council deserve a raise, but that he is concerned about the timing. As such, he has not made a decision on the council raises. Uhlis wants to make sure he hears the public’s voice before he decides.
By Friday afternoon with less than 175 people having signed the petition, Uhlis wrote that she was planning on going “door to door over the weekend asking for more support from the community.”
The First Responders of Atlanta have gone years without a sizable raise. A raise that was promised to them many years ago. They work over 40 hours a week, keeping our streets and city safe, and they take pride in the job they have been hired to do. While cops or firefighters are expected to Sacrifice their Lives for others, Hold themselves to a higher standard of moral and ethical behavior, and work endless hours (sometimes cancelled off days or 12 hour shifts) they also always get the lowest priority when it comes to compensation. The Atlanta City Council has passed the vote to give themselves (the council) a 50% raise However, city council only works Part Time. They get paid $40,000 for a part time job. With this latest vote they will be making up to $60,000. Our men and women are lucky if they make upwards of $35,000. This petition was started to let the Honorable Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed ,know that we are challenging him to veto this. There is a possibility that his veto can be overridden by the council itself. In that event, we want our council members to know that by the next voting term they will find large challenges in their reelection. The main objective of this petition is to say:
First Responders deserve raises First (This means a real raise and not one where you give them 1% and then spike up their benefit contributions). To say as a city and a community, we stand beside and speak up for our First Responders who have no voice in this. We as a people are demanding Financial Compensation for our Sworn Guardians.
Some of those making comments included:
Amber Luttrell, Dallas, Ga. – “Because city council members have NEVER put their life on the line for mere pennies! First responders don't make near enough for what they do. Shame on you Atlanta!!!”
Sharnia Hines, Atlanta - "Our first respinders are here for us.....it's our turn to be here for them!"
Kathy Greer, Atlanta - "Police and Fire are a necessity and they are underpaid and have to work extra jobs to make ends meet. The City Council voting themselves a pay raise of over 50% is not only insane in this economy, but narcissistic, irresponsible and unfair!"
Alisha Uhler, Atlanta - "My husband is APD and we struggle to make ends meat off of just his police salary so he has to rely on his extra jobs in order to keep a roof over our heads and food in our kids bellys. Its very rare that our kids get time to see their daddy because he has to work all the time. Its just not fare that the part timers who dont do anything close to what the first responders do get paid almost twice as much as what my husband and many of our first responders do."
Melissa Barth, Loganville - "My husband hasn't had a raise in the 12+ years he has been working with the city of Atlanta. The step increases froze many, many years ago and with the rise of inflation we struggle to stay afloat. I wish that he and his coworkers could vote themselves a raise. The city council people don't leave their houses with a bullet proof vest on!"
While the council has not received a pay increase since 2005, with the pay hike, the council’s annual salary will have almost tripled in the last dozen years. Currently, a promised pay increase across-the-board for city employees is being held up in committee pending more data concerning the city’s property tax collections.
District 6 Councilman Alex Wan was among the 10 who voted for the raise. Others who voted favorably included Cleta Winslow, Howard Shook, Felicia Moore, Yolanda Adrean, Joyce Sheperd, Michael Julian Bond, Aaron Watson, and H. Lamar Willis.
District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall was among the quartet who voted against it. Also voting nay were Natalyn Archibong, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and C.T. Martin. Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr. was not present.
In a news release, councilmembers expressed the fact that they routinely work upwards of 60 hours per week on matters ranging from committee and neighborhood meetings, various taskforce and commission obligations, to community emergencies and other constituent needs. Due to the responsibilities of the job, many councilmembers have either reduced outside employment status to part time or have relinquished outside employment entirely to better serve their constituencies.