The Louisiana City Council has been talking about pay raises for city police officers and dispatchers the past few months in order to stop attrition.
But new Mayor Bart Niedner said Friday, May 2 the upcoming 2014-2015 budget due June 1 is so tight the raises can’t be implemented yet.
However, Niedner plans to form a committee to deal with the situation and hopes the raises can be addressed when the council does its mid-fiscal year budget review around the holidays.
“There’s a lot of concern that we’re targeting one group when we can’t give cost-of-living increases to all city employees,” Niedner said.
“We’re also trying to get a full-time economic developer,” that would eat into the available raise money for police and other employees.
Niedner and several council members said right after the election that a full-time commitment to economic development is the city’s top priority.
Councilman Sal Pollice has been promoting the police department raises after finding out that five of the last eight officers left for better paying jobs.
Pollice’s research showed that Louisiana Police were paid $12.31 per hour, while Bowling Green Police make $13 and Pike County Sheriff’s deputies make $13.75.
But Niedner said Pollice’s figures weren’t even discussed at a joint meeting of the council’s financial and police committees on Wednesday, April 30, when those present realized how tight the budget is.
Niedner said one idea is for the city to phase raises in over three years.
Meanwhile, Niedner has named the ad-hoc committee to come up with a solution. Members will report to the full board on Oct. 6 for possible mid-fiscal year budget time raises.
Niedner said he would appoint council members Pollice, Russell Stephens, Tim Carter and Don Oakley, Police Chief Rich Hughes, City Administrator Bob Jenne, police officer Michael Stroman, Detective April Epperson and dispatcher Charity Lesley to the committee.