Roanoke City Council votes to raise city employee minimum wage, participate in another gun buyback

Each ordinance was unanimously passed.
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 4:39 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Beginning December 27, Roanoke City employees, including public safety workers, will see their wages increase to $15/hour after a vote held Monday.

Roanoke City Council also voted to provide “a one-time stipend to all full-time public safety City employees employed by the City” and a “one-time wage enhancement payment to certain employees employed by the City.”

“We have 1,700 employees that it takes to run this place. Doing everything from clearing streets, to fixing streets, to dispatching 911 calls, to responding to emergencies, to keeping these buildings clean and so we need to compete for folks just like everyone else does,” said City Manager, Bob Cowell.

Every current full-time public safety employee will receive $2,000.

The ability to pay 25 police officer recruits a sign-on bonus was also approved.

“We are currently about 44 positions short of where we’d like to be. What this one does, is for those who are starting new as officers and want to go through our academy, they’re eligible for a $5,000 bonus once they’ve completed the academy and once they’ve served their first year.”

The City Council made it clear they wanted to reinforce, that the Roanoke Police Department and all the City’s Public Safety entities, have their support.

“You will certainly have my support,” said Councilman William Bestpitch

“The role they play is critical,” said Councilman Joe Cobb.

“You are the epitome of essential worker. You were there and have always been there,” said Vice-Mayor, Patricia White-Boyd.

“I think it’s important that we need to recognize truly the great work that they are doing,” said Councilman Robert Jeffrey.

“I understand and appreciate all the hard work they’ve done,” said Councilwoman Vivian Sanchez-Jones.

“I also wanted to state my support for the patrolmen. ...they are trying to do the best they can and I just encourage the public to just give a little grace, just show some grace,” said Councilwoman Stephanie Moon Reynolds.

“We have always been supportive of our police in this city, always,” said Mayor Sherman Lea.

The City of Roanoke will too participate in a firearm buyback program with the Virginia Harm Reduction Coalition.

Each ordinance was unanimously passed.

Cowell said they are able to provide the bonuses through excess revenue collected over the past two years, CARES Act money and The American Rescue Plan.

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