With public workers’ pay rising in region, is Augusta next?

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 8:55 PM EDT
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - First it was Columbia County government employees, and now Grovetown is hopping on the bandwagon.

Starting July 30, the minimum wage for Grovetown city employees will be $15 an hour. Now the question is: When will Augusta follow suit?

In just about eight days, July 21 is when the plan will be presented, and Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis is confident in the Augusta Commission’s response.

“I look forward to on July 21st Augusta’s commission adopting this measure and moving forward into the future,” Davis said.

It’s been a conversation in Richmond County since May 4, since then Columbia County and the city of Grovetown have raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Ashley Campbell is happy to welcome the change.

“Well, as a city employee, I feel great. I mean it makes me appreciate more where I work, it makes me appreciate what the mayor and council do for their employees. It shows that they care about us and they care about you know our livelihood,” said Campbell, city public information officer.

And that’s the main reason behind each county’s raises: livelihood.

“This is the people’s dream. this an opportunity for people to create transformational change in the lives of their families, whether it be buying their first home, sending their child to college this will create opportunity unlike any other time in our city’s history,” Davis said.

But it’s also a competition. There are about 2,800 city workers in Richmond County. Around 350 of them are making less than $30,000 a year, so the mayor wants more for the city.

“We want to be that city of opportunity for everyone where people want to live, to learn, to work and to raise their families,” said Davis said.

Columbia County has 1,312 employees with 151 vacancies. Grovetown has 140 city employees and 28 openings. And it’s become more challenging to keep employees as more companies like Amazon and T-Mobile move into our area offering $15 an hour.

“I mean we’ve had some city employees that have left us to go to another place because of the pay rate,” said Campbell.

But now that their wage went up, those positions might soon be filled.

“This decision has gotten a great response we’ve actually had applications coming in this morning and phone calls with people expressing interest so what a great 24 hours less than 24 hours it’s been for us,” said Campbell.

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