Augusta employee pay raise vote fell on racial lines

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News12 at 11 o'clock/ 4/15/2014

AUGUSTA, Ga (WRDW) -- One Augusta city employees' possible raise divided the Augusta Commission on Tuesday night.

One commissioner is saying race may have been a factor.

Augusta's SPLOST 7 package was also a highly debated item on Tuesday night.

"You said it looked like the vote fell on racial lines and it just looked like racial lines," said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.

Commissioner Bill Fennoy is talking about the vote on raising the city's Procurement Director Gerri Sams pay to $113,000. She's currently the lowest paid director. Once the vote happened, the black commissioners were for it and the white commissioners voted opposite with Commissioner Joe Jackson being absent.

The vote for a pay raise did not pass Tuesday night.

"I didn't look at that what so ever. I haven't been supportive of anybody getting a raises if anybody needs them. Let's focus on the bottom level employees," said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

"It did fall on racial lines. She's been neglected for quite some time. I put a motion together so she couldn't come and ask for any backpack but they didn't want to do that," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Some commissioners also had a problem with funding a new disparity study. The 2008 study reported the city of Augusta was discriminating against women and minorities for city contracts. On Tuesday night, they voted to have the city's Law Department, Procurement and DBE to talk more about it and bring back any recommendations within 45 days.

"The contract is what I'm looking at as far as the people who come and apply. We don't have one black contractor. We have some subcontractors but no prime," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

City leaders also did not approve the engineering departments list for SPLOST 7 projects.

They're supposed to take a closer look at the list of projects in next week's committee meetings.

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