Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Gives Cops a Raise; Uniformed Officers to Get 10% Hike

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Gives Cops a Raise; Uniformed Officers to Get 10% Hike

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

Despite a tight budget, the Green Cove Springs City Council plans to give its uniformed patrol officers a 10 percent salary increase, hoping to stop the flow of officers leaving the ranks for higher-paying jobs.

The council stopped short of giving police dispatchers and officers above the rank of sergeant the same increase; they will get the 4 percent pay hike other city employees will receive. But a citywide salary survey will be conducted in the next year to determine which positions are set too low to be competitive in the employee marketplace.

The council made those decisions Wednesday during a daylong review of the proposed 2003-04 budget. They met with department heads, discussed long-range plans and short-term needs.

Police Chief Gail Russell, who has long lobbied for increased salaries for officers, said existing pay scales "are just not competitive." New officers who get a $24,040 salary in Green Cove Springs could make $30,000 at other area law enforcement agencies and more in private sector jobs.

"We are going to lose experienced officers," he said. "We get them trained and get them on the street [but] they can't get by on this salary."

Russell said the department, which has 18 sworn officer positions, including the chief, has lost four officers in the past year for salary reasons.

"I'm concerned about losing people," he said.

He sought increased salaries for dispatchers as well, but council members said they could not afford to go that route just yet. The plan they did approve would bring salaries for officers who are on the force six months up to $27,700.

Council members said they sympathized with officers seeking higher pay and wanted to do something to stem the tide. The increased police pay will cost about $30,000, largely funded by savings in the city's insurance program.

"You can't blame them for trying to better themselves," said Councilwoman Virginia Hall.

The citywide salary survey will be done in time to use the results in preparation for the 2004-05 budget, council members said.

Public hearings on the city's proposed $20. …

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