• February 1, 2015

Killeen officials propose higher raises for police, fire personnel

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Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:45 pm

Killeen civil service employees are underpaid based on the market, and city officials are taking measures to ensure police officers and firefighters don’t leave the city for a more attractive salary elsewhere, like Austin.

City officials presented a compensation study to the Killeen City Council at its Tuesday workshop meeting. According to the study, Killeen police are 8 percent underpaid and firefighters are 13 percent underpaid compared to similar-size cities. The numbers include the 3 percent raise that was approved last month by the council.

City Manager Glenn Morrison proposed an additional 5 percent raise for civil service employees in the fiscal year 2015 budget, presented last week. However, now he thinks the hike may not be aggressive enough.

“We have a very well-trained force here and because of that, we’re attractive to other entities,” Morrison said. “I can assure you that there’s a large city to the south of us (Austin) that has a university that is going to put the call out for 150 police officers in January. They’re already coming and they’re already calling.”

Morrison said he plans to bring another proposal to the council soon looking at what a 6, 7 and 8 percent increase would look like for the fire and police departments.

Ann Farris, assistant city manager, said when developing the compensation study, staff looked at neighboring cities and cities of similar size to Killeen.

Killeen was compared to cities such as Abilene, Frisco, Georgetown, Pasadena and San Marcos.

Matt Weatherly, a consultant for the study, said population size, the presence of a college or a military installation and cost of living also were taken into consideration while developing the study.

When asked if the city feared losing police officers and firefighters to Austin, Morrison said: “Retaining our staff is what we would like to do. We know there are options and opportunities out there, so we’re never going to stop that, but we can minimize that to a manageable measure.”

Morrison said the department is down 18 officers. If an additional 10 officers left for other opportunities, he said the city would not be able to function properly.

Morrison said the sooner and the closer the city can get to the suggested market rate “the better off we are.” Funds for increased salary hikes are within the police and fire departments’ current budgets, he said.

Councilman Juan Rivera fully backed the idea of a higher increase. “Let’s quit having a city that trains people for other cities.”

Councilman Terry Clark said a 13 percent difference in pay “would be worth” driving to an outlying city.

Councilmen Jonathan Okray and Jose Segarra argued that Killeen’s affordable housing market may give employees incentive to stay.

Segarra said there may be more money in Austin, but housing comes at a steeper price.

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Welcome to the discussion.

5 comments:

  • Alvin posted at 3:49 pm on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Alvin Posts: 285

    @Texas4ever: The word 'Love' is a pretty strong syntax for the way the people in general feel about the police, in general. And yes I feel, in general, a likeness for the police, in general. But I am not talking about 'liking or disliking' the police or fire department and I don't begrudge any of them a liveable wage or salary. That is not what my comments were directed towards. My comments were that a/the city manager is not the one to set anyone's salary. He has people who have that responsibility. The 'blanket increase' that he has set is 'not the correct way to administer salary increases'. In my working career, an individuals immediate supervisor is the one who 'should' fill out paperwork on the individual stating his good, merits, points and also the points that the individual is lacking and need additional work. In such a way, the supervisor can administer the raise, within bounds, that the employee is to receive. And when an employee 'works' for more than one individual, the supervisor can, and should, call upon any that feel they know the individual well enough to give their rating o each individual. This serves to delineate the individual bias.
    As to the comments contributed by Texas4ever and Baylor, I see quite a contrast. Texas4ever has the feeling that if the people of Killeen do not 'keep' the KPD and KFD, by any and all means, such as salary, then Killeen is the looser. By contrast, the comments of Baylor tend to indicate that 'if individuals do not want to live and work in Killeen, then he has the feeling that they would not do a good job and let them go'. Then there is the opinion of Pete, and I copy his writing: 'Do I understand the proposal is for police and fire personnel to get an 8% pay raise? I realize they have dangerous jobs and are heroes, but so are many of the people who pay their salaries. Are private sector wages in this area rising at 8%? If turnover (working elsewhere) is the excuse, wasn't it published recently that much of the turnover was due to retirements? What is the turnover rate of private sector jobs in the area? I'm just afraid civil-servants these days live a better standard of living than those they purport to serve and that is not right. We're all supposed to be in this together. The recession is not over for a large number of the city's citizens.'
    There is much to be said about all sides, but I tend to agree with Baylor and Pete. If the individual, for whatever reason, does not 'want to represent this city in a responsible manner', but only wants to 'get out', then regardless of how much you pay that individual, he will never be satisfied. Pete has some strong points also. What about the private sector salary's? The Military and people on Social Security were regulated to a 1 % increase. How ten do you propose to give the city employee a 3 % increase and then set the KPD and KFD up to get an 8 % and some say up to 14 to 16 % salary increase?
    Baylor, I think, has a/the best solution, 'maybe the council can come up with incentives and attractive ideas to keep tenured officers in lieu of quick pay raises.'
    I don't think 'a blanket salary increase' is a solution at all. Remember, He should be taking into consideration the average salary increase. What is he going to do next year when the employees of the city of Killeen get set to receive their next salary increase? Punt????
    One of the 1 % who voted.

     
  • Texas4ever posted at 1:49 pm on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Texas4ever Posts: 1

    Taxpayer money is going out the door every time a officer leaves the city, due to higher paying jobs in other elsewhere. You go to other cities and they love their officers and pay them accordingly. In Killeen a firefighter is also a paramedic after 2 years, the city is getting a hell of a deal paying only 50k per officer. There are cities that pay their firefighters 50k for only being FF. It's common sense to leave. And with them goes experience, trained and quality employees.
    Any firefighter can go work for a Fire Department and not have to live in that city, so they don't have to pay their taxes. So it makes sense to go to the bigger cities and live elsewhere.
    Go to any fire station in Killeen and talk to the fire fighters there, put some of their gear, see how much training they have to do, and then you will see how hard they work to keep you and your family safe.

     
  • Baylor posted at 12:15 pm on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Baylor Posts: 197

    I have always liked the Killeen police. I think it important to keep the officers who have common sense,compassion,and have that helpful spirit. Could care less about the ones who leave that possess that callous attitude towards the public.Hoping maybe the council can come up with incentives and attractive ideas to keep tenured officers in lieu of quick pay raises.

     
  • Alvin posted at 9:12 am on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Alvin Posts: 285

    Finally we have two gentlemen that have their heads out of that preverbial spot 'where the sun doesn't shine'. I'll begin with the end of the article, the news paper reported that 'If an additional 10 officers left for other opportunities, he said the city would not be able to function properly. We just had a group of 10 officers 'graduate' to fill vacancies. Does that mean with the department being down these 10 officers, this police department was 'NOT' functioning properly?
    Copy: 'Councilman Terry Clark said a 13 percent difference in pay “would be worth” driving to an outlying city.' Where does he get his math from? I recall that they received a 3 % raise, the I recall that the city manager is quoted as saying 'the deserve an additional 5 %. Then I recall, again the city manager is quoted as saying 'he plans to bring another proposal to the council soon looking at what a 6, 7 and 8 percent increase would look like for the fire and police departments.' Now 3 % plus 5 % equals, at least in my calculator, is 8 %. The article says 6 %, & 7 %, and 8 %, not 5 % which is required to equal 13 %. And is it a fact that, again according to council Terry Clark, that there is NOT a requirement to 'live' within the city limits where the Killeen Police Department has jurisidiction?
    As to the statement by the consultant, ' Matt Weatherly, a consultant for the study, said population size, the presence of a college or a military installation and cost of living also were taken into consideration while developing the study.' This statement, I personally feel, is tailored to fit the parameters of the case in question, 'The presence of a college or a military installation'. Is he emplying that the cost of police protection is higher due to a college or a military installation? I personally think that 'that is misdirection'.
    And as to councilman Juan Rievera, does he think that 'this KPD trains officers just to seek employment elsewhere? Does he not realize that there are 'others influences' at work here? I say 'get real'.
    I agree with this writer, @Pete and his case. Isn't it true that the COL 'Cost of Living' per annum does not in any way reflect what the city manager is asking for, and then to compound this fact by asuggesting another 6 %, 7 %, or even 8 %. I personally think that if this city council goes ahead and gives the additional 5 % raise, that, as I said earlier, they are guilty of 'having their heads in the nether region'.
    It's ludriculus even to suggest that the policeman in austin, or San antonio, or Abilene, the policeman in Killeen has a case to suggest equality in pay structure because of the varances in area.
    I seem to recall, in todays news paper, that Killeen has the $ 5 spot in the State of vehicle theft. Wow.
    One of the 1 % who voted

     
  • Pete posted at 6:30 am on Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

    Pete Posts: 131

    Do I understand the proposal is for police and fire personnel to get an 8% pay raise? I realize they have dangerous jobs and are heroes, but so are many of the people who pay their salaries.

    Are private sector wages in this area rising at 8%? If turnover (working elsewhere) is the excuse, wasn't it published recently that much of the turnover was due to retirements? What is the turnover rate of private sector jobs in the area?

    I'm just afraid civil-servants these days live a better standard of living than those they purport to serve and that is not right. We're all supposed to be in this together. The recession is not over for a large number of the city's citizens