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The city’s budget is the number one priority of the new City Council and salary increases are one of the pillars of concern.
Included in Richmond’s fiscal year budget that began Oct. 1 2008, was a five percent salary increase for all city employees across the board.
According to the city’s 2008 and 2009 salary figures, some city employees received more than a five percent increase.
Some departments such as the Fire Department did see a five percent increase across the board, but other departments such as Public Works saw some employees receive more.
Wastewater Superintendent C.E. Goodall saw a 22 percent jump in his salary. Two other Public Works employees also saw double digit increases in salary.
Salary increases were the highest in the city’s Police Department where average raises exceeded 10.8 percent. Two officers saw a 15.4 percent increase, with the lowest increase at 6.8 percent. The city’s animal control officers saw a nearly 10 percent increase. The department’s overall cost including salaries, insurance and taxes average to an increase of about 9.7 percent.
When asked about her department’s raises by Councilwoman Terrie Stanley on Tuesday, Police Chief Terri McWilliams said officers were given raises last year to become more in-line with other department’s salary structures. McWilliams said one position was eliminated and another one is not being filled to compensate for the increases.
“I don’t know what the percentage is, but I do know that we opted to do away with one part-time position and not replace a full-time position in order to give raises,” McWilliams said.
Starting salary for a Richmond officer is now $28,500 a year.
Kearney, a town slightly larger than Richmond and more accessible to interstate highway access, starts police officers at $31,300. Carrollton, a city slightly smaller in population with roughly the same transportation restrictions, starts police officers at about $19,000 a year. Savannah, a town slightly smaller town than Richmond with interstate access starts officers at about $25,000 a year.
McWilliams referenced a state law enacted last year that required county judges to review the salary structure of sheriff’s deputies and make the necessary adjustments.
Ray County Presiding Judge David Miller approved a five percent increase of deputies across the board. Entry-level deputies now start at about $25,000.
The average salary for the Richmond Police department is $33,296 excluding McWilliams and part-time officers. The average salary for the Ray County Sheriff’s Department is about $29,000.
McWilliams said the city’s police salary review board looked at the numbers last year and recommended an increase. McWilliams also said salary increases are not the only factor in retaining officers.
“We were a little alarmed because a lot of places pay similar to what we are paying now but they also provide 100 percent equipment and 100 percent uniforms,” she said.
McWilliams also said the department does not provide weapons to officers.
McWilliams said officer retention can be an issue but said the city does not have a lot of situations where officers work for a year or two and then jump.
“I think we have really been striving to provide a good work environment,” she said. “We’ve got a good group.”
McWilliams also pointed out that half of two of the city’s officer’s salaries are picked up by the Richmond School District for nine months. According to her budget, the city receives $36,000 a year for the officers.