Monument police are getting long-awaited raises.
The town's Board of Trustees recently approved a resolution to increase their wages. Incoming sworn officers will be offered a base salary of $52,000, a 13 percent increase, as of Jan. 1. Salaries for existing officers will bump up based on a stepping-grade, which is still being negotiated. All officers also will receive 5 percent raises each year of employment for the next five years before reverting to the traditional cost-of-living adjustment scale.
While costly upfront - trustees are budgeting about $130,000 for the 2018 raises - Mayor Jeffrey Kaiser said it will "catch us up to be more competitive across the state."
With the former starting salary of $46,000, Monument police struggled to fill open positions, one remaining vacant as long as a year, Town Manager Chris Lowe said.
There were a few applicants who advanced through the interviewing process, but they did not meet the hiring qualifications, Lowe said.
"Certain staff felt that when advertising (the salary) at $46,000, that was not competitive," Lowe said. "Police staff said if we don't offer at least $50,000 we're not going to get satisfactory applicants."
Lower pay than other departments across the Front Range and stringent qualifications have "habitually deterred" the department from hiring and maintaining employees, Kaiser said.
"This is hoped to rectify some of that," Kaiser said of the passed resolution. And it already seems to be making a difference.
Police Chief Jacob Shirk said Saturday the department has been recruiting for its open position with the caveat that the listed $46,000 salary could jump to $52,000.
"We've had more applications than we have in a long, long time," Shirk said.
The raises officially were approved Saturday and the overall budget was passed Monday.
The pay raises came with sacrifices, however, Kaiser said.
To balance the budget, trustees had to cut other planned projects next year. For example, instead of increasing the road maintenance budget by $50,000 in 2018, as had been done in recent years, trustees voted to maintain the current budget. They also cut some parks improvements, such as new lighting and water fountains, and placed on hold police's request for an electronic ticketing system, which would generate tickets with the swipe of a driver's license.
"If revenues increase during the year we may bring some projects back," Kaiser said.
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