NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — The New Bedford Council unanimously voted to add an amendment Thursday night to an ordinance that caps the raise for 151 non-union workers on the City payroll to a maximum of 25 percent in pay.

Of those 151 positions, about eight will receive the maximum raise. These positions include the city’s Animal Control Officer, the Director of Licensing and the Director of Community Services.

The ordinance was also passed on a 10-0 vote and heads to Mayor Jon Mitchell’s desk for final approval.

Council President Linda Morad said the amendment was done collaboratively between councilors after constituents told them the raises for these eight positions were too costly. At Thursday’s Council meeting, members of the public filled the downstairs and upstairs of the chamber—holding fliers and signs protesting the pay hikes.

Morad said the reason for these specific pay hikes was to recognize those who have served in these positions for more than 10 years. The remaining positions will receive an average raise between five and 10 percent.

“Other colleagues said, listen, we need to take care of people who have been here for a long time,” Morad said. “Those eight people who are more than 25 percent are not going over 25 percent. It tries to make it fair and equal.”

Ward 6 Councilor Ryan Pereira said his vote to approve the amendment was also based on constituent concerns. He said he realized the percentages needed to be changed after receiving the exact calculations of the pay hikes—which would have some positions receive a salary increase of $40,000 to $50,000.

“I received communications and phone calls from constituents of the city saying our residents don’t need a raise,” Pereira said. “They felt that some positions were way out of whack. I had to agree with them.”

According to Councilor at Large Ian Abreu, he and Ward 1 Councilor Brad Markey first proposed a 20 percent cap. During negotiations, however, Abreu said they ultimately decided on a 25 percent limit, in what he called a “bipartisan consensus.”

“It’s not perfect,” Abreu said. “No ordinance is perfect, anything made by humans won't be perfect, but the important thing to note tonight is that the people, the populace of New Bedford, expressed those concerns and we listened to those concerns.”

Those who attended the meeting left with mixed feelings, with some supportive of the cut while but said it was not enough.

Nina Espada, who handed out fliers and signs in the chamber, said she supports pay hikes for Unit C workers, but said it was not fair for some positions to receive higher raises compared to others.

“Everybody deserves a pay raise, the cost of living has gone up,” she said. “We don't support 30 to 50 percent pay raises.”

Others, such as Erik Andrade, said he wants a cap at 15 percent and said it would “waste taxpayer dollars.”

With differing opinions from constituents, the councilors are tasked to explain their vote on the amendment to them.

Ward 5 Councilor Scott Lima said he acknowledged there would be constituents who still think the cut was not sufficient and said explaining it to them will be a challenge.

“I still think that there may be some push back,” Lima said. “Even those who fully understand what I am saying, I still think there are people who are not going to be happy.”

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