San Marcos City Hall. File photo.
By the Newstreamz editorial board
At a special meeting of the San Marcos City Council Monday, that august body will consider a limited agenda that, nonetheless, includes a measure that would increase the city’s annual costs by 2.5 percent.
The city is about to sign a collectively bargained (aka “union”) agreement with our local police. The agreement stipulates working conditions and, more to the point, handsome compensation increases in the forms of salary and “soft pay.” During the three-year life of the agreement, the city would spend $1.8 million more for police without adding a single man, woman, car or gun.
We have recently seen a spike in violent crimes such as home invasions, shootings and murders. If our city council were considering a proposal to fund one more police officer or detective on the streets to reduce this maelstrom with the goal of protecting the citizens of our city, we would rally in support of the effort. However, when the police union is asking for this money just to increase pay and benefits for the 95 officers currently on the force while other city employees are asked to forego cost-of-living increases, we must ask: Is this fair?
To answer this question, let’s consider what cities comparable to San Marcos pay their police.
First, we pay our starting police officers $44,011 per year. Our sister to the south, New Braunfels, pays starting officers $45,080, which amounts to $1,069 annually, or 2.4 percent more. Comparable Texas cities on www.policeone.com offer their starting officers the following: College Station ($39,811), Bryan ($40,206), Waco ($42,754), and Belton ($35,300). Our county’s website said Hays County pays its deputy sheriffs $41,912 annually. When averaged, we pay our police officers 7.75 percent more than these other comparable governments — and that’s before the council approves a police contract that raises salaries even more.
We all understand that our police get paid because, in the words of one Newstreamz contributor, they ” … [are] available 24/7 on shifts, work holidays, put your [their] life on the line daily, [they’re] out in the weather no matter how bad it gets sometimes (heat, cold, rain), [they’re] willing to risk [their] life to save someone else, and deal with the true scum of life many times.” Being fair to this comment, we must point out that so do the officers of comparable cities in the State of Texas.
Let’s get back to the issue of fiscal responsibility, realizing that this increase does not fund one more penny to fight crime or slow traffic in our neighborhoods. At the end of three years, we will have spent an additional $1.8 million to fund our already well-paid police force. During the next three years, this decision amounts to additional pay for each officer totaling approximately $20,000.
This pay increase will be given over three years. The first year cost of this decision will be $314,572. The estimated cost of the second year will be that much, plus an additional $296,379, for a total cost of $610,040. In Year Three, we pay that $610,040, plus an additional $308,487. At the end of this contract, we will be paying nearly $1 million more per year for the police — and that’s if the police department doesn’t add a single officer.
This decision will find us paying each officer annually an additional $10,205. Remember, this annual increase will then be the base from which to start future negotiations.
If you do the math, this rate of increase results in a 21 percent pay increase during the next three years. The only number almost as large is the unemployment rate facing our nation, the highest unemployment since the Great Depression.
Understand, we are in favor of a safer and more secure San Marcos. We are opposed to paying more than our neighbors for the same level of protection. We contend that simply having our police union flexing its muscle to gain ground for their few at the expense of many, which includes us, is not fair.
We ask that the city council focus on the priorities of our city, particularly in light of these tough economic times. If the civil servants of our city are being underpaid, then let’s get that right. If those that are being well-paid just want more because they think they can get it, members of our city council, please consider who you serve when you vote this Monday.Email | Print