JONESBORO — Mayor Harold Copenhaver’s first budget would establish a minimum salary in 2022 of $14 per hour for the lowest-paid employees, hiring more police officers and tripling spending on sidewalk construction and street overlays.

And there would be no deficit spending, according to the proposed spending plan.

The city council’s finance and administration discussed the budget proposal Thursday without taking action. The committee will meet again on Dec. 14. The deadline to enact a budget is Jan. 31.

The proposed $56,715,008 million operating and maintenance budget represents an almost $2.6 million, or 4.8 percent, increase from the current year’s budget. Projected revenue of $62,121,548 is about $7.7 million, or 14.2 percent, more than had been projected for 2021.

About 55 percent of the planned spending would go into public safety, including police, fire, animal control, code enforcement and court services.

As for the wage increases, the city, like private business, faces difficulty in filling important positions, said Steve Purtee, the city’s finance director. The $14 minimum wage would affect 164 people. The statewide minimum wage is $11.

“These are the people that are out in the market every day doing something, providing some service for our residents,” Purtee said during Thursday’s meeting.

Copenhaver noted about one-fourth of the city’s staff are paid less than $14 per hour now.

The current minimum is $12.37.

“This is the first step for us, for the administration to come in and immediately make a change, very abruptly,” Copenhaver said. “We’re trying to understand what was done in the present time and how we can move forward.”

For the rest of the city’s work force, each employee will receive 2 percent cost of living raises, in addition to 2 percent step increases.

In his cover letter accompanying the budget plan, the proposal contains investments in equipment and efficiency upgrades for the sanitation and street departments.

“In addition to multiple leases, the city plans to purchase $450,000 in Sanitation Department Equipment and more than $800,000 in Streets Department assets,” Copenhaver wrote, adding the parks department would receive about $500,000 in new equipment and the fire department would get a $700,000 fire truck.