DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some Dallas City Council members want to give police and firefighters an across the board raise during the next budget year starting October 1.
That’s because the city of Dallas continues to lose police officers and firefighters to other North Texas cities that pay more.
Council member Scott Griggs advocated for an across the board raise in a Facebook post late last month saying, “I support a 5 percent raise this fiscal year 2018-2019 to make our compensation more competitive. We still underpay all our officers compared to other cities in Texas. Hopefully we can get a raise for all our first responders.”
Griggs asked the city manager last month how much a 5 percent across the board raise would cost.
In a memo to council members last week, City Manager T.C. Broadnax said, “As a rule of thumb, each 1 percent pay increase would require between approximately $5.7 million and $6 million.”
Broadnax said with a more in-depth review, the number could increase.
So using that math, a 5 percent across the board raise could cost $30 million a year.
Councilman Philip Kingston said, “We can probably find enough money to create some raise.”
He praised Griggs’ question and said he would support giving police and firefighters a raise during the next budget year, even before the city is set to begin negotiations for a new long-term contract, also known as meet and confer.
“I think that’s really the genius of Scott’s idea: to do something now while we’re having a problem. We know we’re going to give them a raise in the next meet and confer. That’s not even up for discussion – there’s going to be a raise. Might as well start evaluating it now.”
Frederick Frazier, First Vice-President for the Dallas Police Association backs the raises. “We’re watching our best officers leave here still and we’re not even staying up with attrition.”
Frazier said he fears without a raise next year, the city will continue to struggle hiring new officers.
The city’s goal is to hire 250 new officers by the end of September.
But as of late June, the city hired only 130 officers, while 137 officers have left the department since October 1.
Frazier said, “Every officer who laterals from here is taking a $15,000 to $18,000 pay increase instantly. That’s money for their family, that’s real money.”
The President of the Dallas Firefighters Association, Jim McDade said firefighters are leaving for other cities too, but hiring has kept up.
He said starting salary is not the only problem. “It takes 11 years from when you start to be topped out. Those are 11 long years and you can go to other places where you can top out much faster than that.”
Under the last year of their current meet and confer contract which begins October 1, some officers and firefighters are due to receive an extra step increase, which could amount to five percent.
Those who have already topped out won’t receive the extra step.
But the police and fire associations have said that their current contract brought them back to nearly the pay levels they made before taking pay cuts during the recession.
They did not impact starting pay.
McDade and Frazier said that eight of the 15 people who sit on the city council support the across the board raises on top of their current contract.
McDade said, “We’re absolutely confident we have council support on this.”
Council Member Omar Narvaez said he too would back the pay increases.
Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune, who oversees public safety, said that Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief David Coatney and Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall will present their budget proposals to Broadnax in the next week or two.
No word yet if they include pay raises for officers and firefighters.
Broadnax will present his budget to council members when they return in early August from their summer break.
The council has until September 30 to approve a budget for next year.