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Christmas 'reward' removed from city employees' bank accounts

After depositing Christmas 'rewards' into employees' accounts, the City of Birmingham reversed the deposit as it was the incorrect amount. (WBMA)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) - The giving season is in full swing in the Magic City, and everything holiday is in its place.

But for city employees, they're going to have to make do with one less Christmas present.

Birmingham City employees received a Christmas 'reward' that officials say should not have been there in the first place.

“I never saw anything build moral up when William Bell was in office, nothing,” said Birmingham employee Ray Pierce.

For about 20 years, Ray Pierce has worked for the city in various positions.

Pierce says the past two decades haven't been kind to city employees. So when he saw the email detailing the Christmas reward, he was excited.

Today the Birmingham City Council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2018 budget, which rewards you for all of your hard work on behalf of the citizens of our great city with a 1% cost of living adjustment and the reinstatement of longevity pay.
We are working to make sure you receive this in back pay (from July 1st 2017 through today) before the Christmas holiday.

“[I was] just grateful for getting anything, compared to what we were getting,” said Pierce.

Then bad news came via email the Friday before Christmas:

The COLA was inadvertently deposited in your accounts last night and will be reversed today. The correct amounts will be posted next week.

“Aw h***, now I don't have that...," said Pierce.

Pierce recently lost his son.

“Nobody knows what everybody else is going through,” said Pierce.

And even though it's Christmas, the bills keep coming. But Pierce couldn't bear the thought of his grandchildren now without a father going through a Christmas without gifts.

Pierce thought, “Where am I going to get the money to take care of this?”

Some people were looking forward to the cost of living adjustment.

While Pierce says the city may have dropped the ball on the cost of living adjustment, they scored big for bringing back something he says Mayor Bell took away years ago.

“This extra money that came in... on the longevity - that helped me a lot in what I’m having to go through - and...I can't tell [Mayor Woodfin] enough how much I appreciate it. Without him I would have been struggling a lot harder,” said Pierce.

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