Safford offers CARES Act spending plan

David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central. During the May 27, 2020 meeting, Safford Vice Mayor Richard Ortega reviews a city staff proposal to increase by 75 cents the hourly wage of all employees with two or more years of service.

SAFFORD — The City of Safford is in line to receive $1.15 million from the governor’s office and city staff is recommending that money be spent four ways.

The funding comes from the $150 billion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which spread out money to help states and municipalities deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is funneled through the governor’s office’s AZCares Fund.

Safford city staff is proposing:

● $260,000 be spent on the police station evidence yard and FF&E

● $23,000 placed in the Economic Development Fund to replace what was spent by the city for Gift Certificate Program

● $763,404 to replenish the Rainy Day Fund

The remaining $99,710 is proposed to give city staff a $0.75 an hour raise across the board for all employees with two or more years of service, effective July 1.

The raise has been debated between staff and the City Council for months, with the most recent compromise two weeks ago of splitting the raise — $0.45 effective July 1 and $0.30 Jan. 1, 2021, with an additional approval required of the council for the second increase.

Staff has maintained the raises are required to bring employee salaries closer to competitive with other municipalities of similar size and revenue, in order to maintain staff retention and reduce time lost to staff replacement and training.

The City Council will be asked to act on the proposal at its next meeting, Monday, June 8, at 6 p.m., in the Safford Library’s program room.