Plain City Council is considering adjusting the pay scale for the village’s police department.
Lt. Tom Jaskiewicz spoke to the board during Wednesday’s work session about a recent request from the department’s employees.
He said officers are not looking for an increased salary, but a shorter period before their pay tops out.
Jaskiewicz said about a year and a half ago, the village entered into a new compensation package for the police department. At the time, council elected to reduce the period before police officers reach their highest pay step from 20 years to 12 years.
Although it was a “significant cut,” he said it was “less than what we asked council and personnel and finance (committee) for.” The department requested at the time officers reach their highest pay at eight years of employment.
However, Jaskiewicz said council agreed to review the step increases in a year.
Now, he said officers have asked for a reduction so they begin with a starting salary then “reach your top-out pay” at five years of employment.
Jaskiewicz said this is “very much in line with what industry standards are.” Most local agencies top out between three and five years, he said.
“They feel what they’re asking for is very fair and reasonable,” Jaskiewicz said, adding that he and Chief Dale McKee agree.
He said he and McKee have also looked at the police department budget to consider what changes would be fiscally reasonable.
He proposed council reduce the length of time before command staff – including the chief, sergeant, lieutenant and detective – reach top-out pay to three years and reduce the period for patrol staff from 12 years to eight years.
Jaskiewicz said they would like both changes to be enacted in July 2021.
Then, in January 2023, he said the department would like to reduce the top step for patrol staff from eight years to five years.
Based on the current staff, Jaskiewicz presented the financial cost of the proposed reductions.
He said the changes would result in an increase of nearly $31,000 in the 2021 budget, as the command staff and two most senior officers would reach top-out pay in July.
In 2022, he said several additional officers would reach top-out pay, costing just over $32,000.
Jaskiewicz said the changes would cost about $17,000 in 2023.
He said he understands there is a financial impact of amending the pay scale, but feels it would bolster recruitment efforts and retention at the police department.
In recent hiring efforts, the lieutenant said he feels they have received applications from good candidates “but we realize with the top-out pay significantly lower nearby, we probably lose out on some candidates as a result of that.”
Council President John Rucker agreed. He said reviewing the compensation steps would give Plain City a “more competitive stance in recruiting quality candidates.”
Council member Lauren Giaimo said she also worries that there could be issues retaining officers in the future if changes are not made soon.
Fellow Council member Shannon Pine echoed her opinion.
She said she was a member of council at the time the steps were reduced to 12 years, but “was confused at the time” why the top-out time wasn’t reduced to eight years, as requested.
Pine said she doesn’t think the cost of the proposed changes “is that big of a budget increase to put this in effect.”
“I think our officers are well respected, not only in Plain City but in Central Ohio… I would hate for the guys we have to get sucked up by other agencies because they can top out sooner there,” she said.
“It’s about time,” Pine added.
Council agreed to send the proposal to the personnel and finance committee for review. Jaskiewicz said the officers did not request a deadline for their decision, but are “satisfied” that the board agreed to review their request.
“The fact that you’re going to continue to review it and look it over is good enough at this point in time,” he said.
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