Following the wishes of the city's Finance Committee, city manager Matt Kline suggested Monday that some non-union city workers should receive 1 percent raises.
Though the city commission didn't say "no," they appeared to be leaning toward freezing all salaries in 2009.
"I don't see how we're even talking about 1 percent," said commissioner Dan Kaman. "That's $30,000. That's one (city worker)."
Next Monday, the commission will meet to further discuss the raises and the 2009 budget.
Earlier this month, the city created a five-person committee to review the issue. The committee decided some non-union city workers -- who are on the lower end of the pay scale and who have received solid performance reviews -- deserved a 1 percent raise. Last Friday, the Finance Committee voted 5-4 in favor of those raises.
But commissioners Kaman, Dave Waddington, Craig Stahl and Brett Fuqua all expressed fear that raises would lead to lost jobs. The city is already facing a $1.5 million deficit in 2009.
Fuqua said he didn't support any initiative that would cost a city worker his job.
"I would much rather take a freeze than have to see one of my fellow workers have to hit the street," he said. "I've said this before: I'd rather see us cut services than cut people."
Last week, several non-union city workers expressed dissatisfaction with the discussion about not receiving raises. They said it's unfair that city union workers will get raises and they won't.
In 2007, the unions negotiated a three-year deal, which guaranteed 3 percent raises for city union employees.
But Stahl said because of 2009's deficit, the city's cash balance will only be $2.1 million at the end of the year. If that "bleed rate" continues, the city will be in debt by 2011.
Because the cash balance will fall below $3 million this year, it will already affect the city's ability to borrow money.
"Sandusky, not unlike our nation, is facing an economic Armageddon in our finances," he said. "I don't think we can do those (raises) without laying people off."
Commissioner Bob Warner said the city commission hasn't explored all options yet, and it was premature to dismiss raises or cuts.
He pointed out he's negotiated many contracts for unions, and there are always alternative solutions.