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City leader gets $10K raise amid Petersburg budget crisis

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PETERSBURG, Va. -- Just a day before salary reductions are set to begin for Petersburg city employees because of an $18 million budget deficit, one top-level worker is getting a $10,000 raise.

A news release Friday detailed a job change for Tangela Innis. While she worked as the city’s purchasing agent, she earned a salary of $79, 948. But as the city’s new operations manager, her salary will jump to $90,341.

The news comes as spending is being scrutinized in the city due to $18 million deficit. In fact, the State Secretary of Finance Office has charged the city with identifying program and operational efficiencies from day-to-day operations.

“It's definitely a cause for concern,” said Mikey Fuller, a concerned citizen. “You can't give someone a $10,000 pay raise and expect to cut everyone else 10-percent.”

However, Dironna Belton, Petersburg’s acting city manager, pointed out the job change comes with added responsibilities.

The move caught several city council members by surprise, included Brian Moore, who said he had not heard of the mandate.

And as city employees begin to take a 10-percent pay cut, one worker receiving a salary increase does not sit well with some.

"It's very concerning,” Moore said. “At a point where we're talking about reducing city workers pay, I think just the timing is bad."

Innis, who has 15 years experience and holds a master’s degree in business administration, has worked for the city since 2012.

Her tenure does include the timeframe when new water meters were installed that resulted in confusion and bills not being issued for months.

The acting city manager will present to the city council Tuesday recommendations for cutting city expenditures and how the city will deal with paying off the $18 million at the same time the city is trying to meet its monthly expenditures.