City police, fire salary bumps needed

A competitive and ever-changing workforce necessitates wise choices by city and county governments looking to attract the best and the brightest individuals to their departments, and to keep the most well-trained, qualified and hard-working among its existing employee pool.

The City of Clinton has recognized that fact and is proposing a much deserved salary bump for police officers and firefighters in the 2017-18 budget, a move we believe is necessary in the ongoing effort to recruit and retain the most qualified public safety teams to take care of our community.

The proposal, which calls for a 12 percent hike for police officers and an 8 percent raise for firefighters, will be part of the city’s recommended 2017-18 budget, which will go before City Council in the next month or so. If the salary bump recommendation gets the Council’s blessing, starting salaries for Clinton police officers will be in the range of $35,000-$36,000, and for firefighters between $34,000 and $35,000.

Both are significant jumps that make some of the most difficult and dangerous positions any city employs far more competitive with those in towns around Clinton’s size.

And that bodes well for citizens who will benefit from highly-trained and skilled professionals in the police and fire departments, men and women more likely to stay on for longer periods of time, if not their careers, providing their expertise in times when individuals need it the very most.

That’s far better than the revolving door one often sees when salaries are low and neighboring counties beckon. In those cases, we too often lose some of those we’ve spent countless hours training and readying for the jobs we need them to fulfill.

The raise recommendation comes on the heels of a Classification Study conducted by the MAPS Group. That study was designed to ensure the city is able to recruit and retain employees by evaluating market competitiveness and internal equity concerns such as compression, which occurs when newly hired employees receive the same or similar compensation as tenured employees.

We believe the proposed salary bump sends a clear message to existing employees that the city wants to retain its workforce and attract the best and the brightest to both departments, both which have lagged behind in terms of compensation. And we believe it opens a much wider door for the chiefs of police and fire to bring in – and keep – the cream of the crop coming out of training programs or looking to relocate from other places.

The City Council will have the final say on whether this salary proposal gets the green light. We hope members continue their forward-thinking actions, approving this increase and considering similar bumps in the not-to-distant future for other municipal employees.