NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is seeking changes to the city council’s salary re-classifications for 151 non-union workers on the City payroll.

In a letter sent to Councilor President Linda Morad and the rest of the council dated Feb. 16, Mitchell wrote he is seeking to repeal an amendment that gives pay hikes to those employed for more than 10 years and is seeking to repeal a 10 percent pay penalty for employees who are not New Bedford residents.

Mitchell said that some pay hikes, capped at a maximum of 25 percent, were too excessive for some employees based on longevity.

“I believe the new longevity benefits established by the council are excessive and unnecessary given the longevity benefits which were already in place for Unit C employees prior to the council's passage of the recent ordinance,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also criticized the pay penalty for employees who are not city residents. He said the residency requirement was similar to rewarding employees for their longevity rather than the quality of their work.

“How does this serve the city’s interests?” Mitchell wrote to the council. “Is it conceivable that a job candidate would be more willing to take the job if the pay cut ended 10 years later? The provision seems like a reward for longevity.”

Mitchell said he is not against retention of employment but argued the residency ordinance hurts the chances of candidates with required experience from receiving a job.

The original pay raise amendment, which had some positions receiving a salary increase of $40,000 to $50,000, received pushback from the public after it was first introduced last year.

The council voted to amend the amendment on Jan. 12 to have the salary hike cap at 25 percent. Morad said the council's reasoning for the raise to positions such as Animal Control Officer, the Director of Licensing and the Director of Community Services was to acknowledge their time serving in their respective roles.

"Other colleagues said, 'Listen, we need to take care of people who have been here for a long time,'” Morad said at the Jan. 12 meeting. “Those eight people who are more than 25 percent are not going over 25 percent. It tries to make it fair and equal.”

Morad, who appeared on WBSM's Tim Weisberg Show with City Councilor at Large Naomi Carney, said she had not read Mitchell’s proposals at the time. She said she and the council will review them at the next meeting.

“They will be on the council agenda next week,” she said. “The administration submits what the council wants to consider by the end of the day on Thursday.”

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