Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Pay Alexandria City Employees Fairly

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Pay Alexandria City Employees Fairly

The Alexandria City Government has a pay philosophy for its employees that salaries will “be competitive at a minimum with the average pay” of its comparators. Unfortunately, the salaries of most employees do not meet this criteria. This issue was true before FY21 and was exacerbated with the removal of merit increases and elimination of the proposed 1 percent raise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An example of this pay issue: Alexandria Police is the lowest paid agency in the entire region, save for Manassas City. This makes it extremely difficult to recruit and retain employees.

Merit increases for all City employees were eliminated and a hiring freeze was instituted in the FY21 budget in an effort to protect funding for core City programs due to COVID-19. Employees understood the massive amount of uncertainty and we did not argue the changes to the budget. Instead, we provided the same level of high-quality service throughout the unprecedented, tumultuous time. It is worth noting that the work of those hundreds of frozen vacancies did not go uncompleted. The workload was instead picked up by other dedicated City employees so as to maintain seamless service to Alexandria’s residents and visitors. This added work caused burn-out and lowered morale as employees took on additional responsibilities.

We have since learned that due to these necessary and appropriate budget decisions, the City saved more than anticipated. Included in those savings was more than $6 million that was created through the FY21 hiring freeze.

For this reason, we respectfully request that City Council use money saved in FY21 to reinstitute the FY21 merit increases (cost of approximately $3.5 million) and 1.5 percent adjustment (cost of approximately $3.4 million) for the thousands of deserving City employees. Merit increases, by definition, are raises provided to employees for performing at or above expectations; the thousands of City employees certainly did this over the last twelve months.

Ben Saks, President IUPA Local 5

Stephen Mackey, President Alexandria Sheriff’s Association

Josh Turner, President IAFF Local 2141