SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah City Council met for their first budget retreat this week to discuss the proposed 2022 budget.

Included in the $479 million proposal is an 8.4% salary increase initiative for city employees, which includes raising minimum pay to $15 per hour.

If approved, the pay changes would be implemented in two phases — the first taking effect Jan. 1 followed by the second phase on July 3.

“I believe we’re going to get there,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told reporters Wednesday.

Johnson said the pandemic prevented the city from increasing the minimum wage last year. He says he’s making good on a campaign promise to have it done by year three of his term.

The proposed budget also includes 39 new city positions and improvements to health coverage.

Council members are set to meet again for a second budget retreat on Tuesday, Nov. 30, at the Savannah Civic Center.

Public hearings on the budget will be held during city council meetings on Tuesday, Nov. 23, and Thursday, Dec. 9 — both at 2 p.m.

The council is scheduled to adopt the 2022 budget on Dec. 9.

2022 proposed budget