Mayor Baker taps expected utility taxes to give union workers promised raises
ST. PETERSBURG — City union workers should be happy it's an election year.
After months of accusations, tension-stricken meetings and legal threats, Mayor Rick Baker has decided to honor the city's contracts with union employees, reversing his decision to withhold $2.3 million in raises.
City Council members and mayoral candidates angling for endorsements from the city's unions had denounced the wage freezes in recent months, putting an unusual amount of pressure on an administration whose budget decisions often go unquestioned.
UPDATE: The budget forum is at 6 p.m. Thursday. Council member Karl Nurse had suggested the city use the projected utility tax increase to establish a grant program toward energy efficiency upgrades for residents. But Baker plans on using that money to pay for his salary increases. Will Nurse fight back? Watch and see.
Cristina Silva, Times staff writer