By Karen Daniels
The last final regular Stafford City Council meeting for 2013 ended well past midnight. The agenda was jam-packed with important issues, but the item for police reclassification and salary increases was greatly debated. Chief Bonny Krahn presented the new proposal to Council and Mayor Leonard Scarcella, a plan designed to help retain and attract skilled officers. At the present time, the City of Stafford has the lowest starting salary for a police officer compared to neighboring cities. The following starting salaries were listed at the meeting:
• Stafford – $37,400
• Richmond – $39,000
• Meadows Place – $40,000
• Rosenberg – $46,000
• Missouri City – $48,000
• Sugar Land – $49,000
• Pearland – $50,000
The proposed starting salary for Stafford Police Department is $43,000. Officers with five years of Texas law experience will receive a pay increase as well. According to Chief Krahn and the Salary Committee, the restructuring of job titles will eliminate overlapping duties and compression issues. Two lieutenants will become captains; five sergeants will become lieutenants; and twelve corporals will be divided – six to sergeants and six to detectives. The corporal position will be completely eliminated. (Currently the only nearby city that still has this position is the City of Bellaire.) “By doing this we have found it is gong to give us, on a per shift basis, more supervision,” noted Chief Krahn.
The increase to the City’s bottom line will be approximately $110K. Originally this agenda item was to be voted on two weeks earlier, but Council did not receive the documents until the start of the meeting, so a motion was made to postpone the presentation until this week. Additionally the Mayor acknowledged that the City’s annual budget is “to be adopted no later than September 30th addressing expenditures for the year.”
Mayor Scarcella pointedly stated, “I don’t think this is a good deal. I don’t think this is a fair deal.” He had “great concern” over one group of employees receiving certification pay while another group did not. “My job is to have a level playing field for everyone and compensate appropriately.” The Mayor stressed how proud he is of the job that Chief Krahn and the Stafford Police Department do for the City, but warned that “next year’s salaries could be cut” if the City is faced with a budget shortfall. Chief Krahn explained that the playing field is different for officers. If an officer is convicted of a DWI, “his career is over.” If an employee of the City is convicted of a DWI, he is not even required to report it. Chief Krahn also mentioned that other employees do not typically risk getting shot on the job. The Mayor clarified, “When you put policies in place for your employees they need to be fair.” A motion was made to move forward on the salary increase and reclassification recommendations for the sworn and non-sworn employees of the police department. The motion passed 5 to 2.