SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – What started as a proposal to provide pay raises for Shreveport police and firefighters officially grew into a raise for all city employees as of Tuesday night when the City Council approved a13% pay raise across the board.

The meeting started with a plea from the Director of Water and Sewerage, William Daniel, asking for his employees to receive a raise along with police and fire.

“You may not be saying that you’re not as important but that’s the message that my workers are getting,” Daniel said.

Councilman Grayson Boucher originally proposed the 13% pay raise to retain police officers and firefighters. But after backlash from other city employees, other council members proposed a 13% pay raise for all city employees.

“The consistency that you have given the City of Shreveport, some of you 30 plus years. You have labored, and you have labored intensively. We’ve heard your cries, and we’ve heard your pleas, and we have a commitment to you,” Dist. A city councilor Tabatha Taylor said.

During the meeting, another pay proposal by Boucher was included for solely police and fire, but it would have given the department a double-raise which caused confusion on the council.

“Can we get someone to withdraw it as I ask my other colleagues, would you please vote this down? Because it’s an embarrassment to the City of Shreveport,” asked Dist. G city council member Jerry Bowman.

“My personal opinion was that 224 was to symbolize something that really meant nothing. I mean, it may have meant something to two of my colleagues, the authors. But at the same time, I got a lot of reaction from city employees who felt this was a slap in the face,” Bowman said.

That proposal was voted down while the overall employee pay raise was approved in a five to two vote. Boucher and Councilman John Nickelson voted against it, citing their original reasons for focusing on retaining police and fire.

City employees stood in the back and cheered when they heard they’re getting a raise.

“It was good. We were looking for this to happen. The chairman said they were going to do what they were going do. I struggle, but I did it for 30-some years and made $13 an hour. I’m just happy it turned out all good,” said Michael Blow, who worked as Maintenance Special Water and Sewer for the City of Shreveport.

It’s an effort Mayor Adrian Perkins strongly supported.

“People were disturbed when they heard our employees had not gotten raises in years. So to compensate our employees in this magnitude means a great deal to me and a great deal to our citizens,” Perkins said.

The bulk of the pay raises will come from the American Rescue Plan, which is one-time dollars, while funding from other departments is being allocated into the General Fund for the raises.

“If you look at the receipts from last year in our sales revenue, we can sustain this further out. How far out right, now we don’t know. We’re going to have to watch next year and prepare the numbers. But right now, we have a plan for sustaining these numbers even though we’re front-loading it with American Rescue dollars,” Perkins said.

The pay raises should kick in for city employees in the second week of February.

Also during the meeting, Councilman James Green was elected as the new chairman and councilman Jerry Bowman as the new vice-chair.