Pay Scale for City Staff, Police A Big Concern for City Council

By Carol Arnett

The Florissant City Council held a lengthy discussion about pay for city staff at their executive session last week. The discussion was in response to a memorandum from a salary committee formed by Mayor Tom Schneider to look at salaries in the city and make recommendations regarding salaries.

In the memo, Police Chief Tim Lowery, a member of the salary committee, laid out the committee’s findings and recommendations. Lowery started by saying he was “extremely concerned with the amount of recent and future turnover of personnel at the police department.” He said that the department had recently lost five veteran officers. Three went to other municipalities and two went to private companies. In exit interviews, Lowery said, all five cited better salaries and benefits as a reason for their departure.

Lowery said that he estimated it takes approximately $15,000 to hire and train a new officer.

The Salary Committee recommended to the council that the city adopt a new pay schedule. The proposed schedule is a step plan that would add two- percent steps each year until the employee reached the maximum salary for his or her grade. This plan would raise several salaries immediately.

Councilman Tim Jones said he endorsed the plan. “I don’t want to be a training facility for other cities,” he said. Regarding the police department turnover, he said, “we cannot compromise on safely.”

Councilman Ben Hernandez had questions regarding the plan. He asked how it affects the budget. “What will the impact be a year from now, two years from now?” he asked.

Hernandez also questioned some of the salary comparisons the committee used. Employees of other cities may make more money because they manage a larger workforce, a larger budget, or have more tenure than the Florissant employee in that position.

Councilman Gerard Henke said that that he understood the concerns about the budget. However, he said, “it’s our job as the council to make it work.”

“Is two percent enough to keep police officer?” asked Councilman Keith Schildroth. Lowery said that in addition to the raise, adoption of the plan would show “that we are doing something.”

Schildroth also said that he did not see a lot of turnover in other departments. “I put the police department in a different category,” he said, “I think they have the toughest job in the city.”

Councilman Tim Lee said, “I support the pay plan 100%.” He did, however, want more information from the committee. He also noted that the committee members recommended pay raised for their positions and thought using an independent firm for a study may be more effective. “I wonder about the effect on the morale of employees who don’t immediately get a raise,” he said.

Lee also questioned why only eight positions were chosen for immediate increases. “What has changed in those positions?” he asked, saying, “the morale of other employees is going to go right down the dumper,” if only certain positions get raises.

The council instructed city staff to prepare legislation that would approve the plan. The council will then discuss and vote on that legislation.

In other action, the council:

 



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