Columbus Police Department officers are getting raises.
The city council voted on Tuesday to approve a new pay scale that includes 5-percent pay raises to the base rate of every rank through captain. The new pay scale is effective immediately.
Under the new scale, entry-level officer pay will rise from $31,915 to $34,986; base certified officer and patrolman pay will rise from $37,500 to $38,485; corporal base pay will rise from $39,222 to $41,192; sergeant base pay will rise from $44,839 to $47,081; lieutenant base pay will rise from $49,956 to $52,454 and captain base pay will rise from $53,560 to $59,037.
A 3-percent raise every five years is built into the pay scale for every rank except captain.
Mayor Robert Smith said he hopes the step will curb what he called a “crisis” in the police department, with CPD regularly losing officers. CPD has about 45 officers — well short of the 77 officers for which the city has budgeted.
“All our employees that work for our city — the 269 employees — are very important to the mayor and council,” Smith said. “But we have a problem with the police department. We’re down to the 40s now. We need to get it back up, at least to the 60s. Hopefully this can be a morale booster now. Hopefully this can stop the bleeding.”
Smith said the raises will cost $160,000 total, including the salary increases and benefits. He said the money will come from CPD’s budget. The department has a $5.48 million budget for Fiscal Year 2017.
“This was something that was needed for us to be able to recruit people,” police chief Oscar Lewis said after the meeting. “It will certainly help with retaining officers at this department. To have a pay scale that addresses this from the beginning of a career to the end is great. I think the officers will enjoy the benefit of this pay scale.”
Smith said the pay scale was created by comparing CPD’s pay to neighboring cities and other police departments that work in comparably-populated cities.
In addition to the pay scale, he said CPD has accelerated promotions and is considering take-home cars for officers.
Six officers received promotions Tuesday evening: Donnie Elkin from lieutenant to captain; and Amanda Burrell, Timothy Brian Jenkins, Joshua Vandiver, Donald Richardson and Tabertha Hardin from patrolman to corporal.
In other business, the city awarded two bids for a major paving project that includes 19.4 miles of road across the city.
Neel-Schaffer Vice President and City Engineer Kevin Stafford said the project was split into separate bids for paving and concrete work to keep prices down. He said Columbus-based Falcon Contracting submitted the lowest bids for both contracts.
Councilmen unanimously approved both contracts, agreeing to $3.51 million for paving and $244,516 for concrete work.
Stafford said prices came in lower than expected, likely due to cheaper oil and gas. He said that should allow the city to add more roads to the project.
Smith requested the council add work on Main Street, from the intersection with Fifth Street to the railroad tracks.
The council also unanimously approved submitting for a Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) Grant.
Stafford said the program can be used for improvements along Wilkins-Wise Road. The grant would provide an estimated $408,000, of which the city would pay slightly more than $80,000 in match, to address a 1.1-mile stretch of road leading to the Lock and Dam.
“They actually will not award this money until the summer of next year, so it won’t be until the budget year before you have to think about budgeting if the grant is awarded,” Stafford said.
Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.