Some Birmingham employees worry over merit raise cut from proposed budget

Some City of Birmingham employees are preparing for a budget battle after the majority of the council slashes a five percent merit raise from the city's 2015 proposed budget.Some councilors voted down the increase Thursday night at the last of their budget sessions. Mayor William Bell included the hike in his proposal.{}Council President Johnathan Austin says he appreciates city employees' hard work but the city must be fiscally responsible. He says there isn't enough money for it and the city is already relying on its savings to balance the budget. He says to dip into that account more could lead to more problems."We could be looking at possible layoffs next year. I think that every employee would agree, whether they are merit employees or not, they would prefer to keep their jobs," Austin says.Birmingham Firefighter Association President Don Baker says the money can be found. In fact, he believes it shouldn't have been up for debate."Several emotions come to mind...frustrated being one," Baker says.The City Council is expected to vote on a budget Tuesday.Birmingham's fiscal year starts July 1.{}