Lubbock to Pay City Employees for Serving Our Country - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/24/02

Lubbock to Pay City Employees for Serving Our Country

One year ago, at least two council members opposed the idea of differential pay to city employees who are called to active duty. Both Councilmen Victor Hernandez and T.J. Patterson say it is a choice you make, one the citizens of Lubbock should not have to support, but people can change their minds, and that is what happened during Thursday's city council meeting.

When international conflict gets hotter, the bigger the chance millions of reservists will be called to fight the war on terrorism. And that affects the City of Lubbock. According to the city human resource department, 38 city employees, like police officers and firemen, are military reservists.

"My concern was how do they survive? The family, their children, how do they survive paying their bills?" asks Councilman Gary Boren.

A new ordinance, that was Boren's idea, will now pay city employees differential pay. For example, say the city pays you $30,000 and the government pays you $20,000 for your time, the city will pay the difference. In this case, $10,000.

Councilman Boren says the city will pay the difference no matter the pay of the employee. And that is why Councilman Hernandez was the only one with a vote of against. He says the city should not have to support someone who made the choice to join the military.

"I suffered, my family suffered extreme financial hardships because I had to close down two law firms, one in Lubbock and one in Hereford, but that is what I chose to do," said Hernandez, speaking about his experience in the U.S. Army.

A year ago, Councilman Patterson would have backed Hernandez simply because he was thinking about tax payer money. "But as I look at the world today, and think about how important it is to have a ready force, I can support this. I'm an old veteran. I will support this and change my philosophy," said Patterson.

Councilman Frank Morrison has found out more Texas cities are providing differential pay to their city employees. "As our military is becoming more volunteer, in that sense, I could go along with this," said Morrison.

10 city employees have been called into active duty within the past year. The new ordinance will go into effect immediately and only applies from this point forward. And a note to add, City Attorney Anita Burgess and Assistant City Manager Tommy Gonzalez are both military reservists.

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