Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington City Council inches closer to agreement on police, fire salary increases

<p>The Bloomington Police Department is located at 220 E. Third Street. The Bloomington City Council debated increases for BPD officers and other city employees Wednesday.</p>

The Bloomington Police Department is located at 220 E. Third Street. The Bloomington City Council debated increases for BPD officers and other city employees Wednesday.

The Bloomington City Council unanimously recommended a proposal opening the door to increase the Bloomington Police Department and Fire Department salaries 9-0 Wednesday night. 

The council continued a recent contentious debate over the salaries for BPD. 

BPD is experiencing a deficit of needed officers, with only 76 of the recommended 105 officers readily available for dispatch. Councilmembers Dave Rollo and Ron Smith opposed recent annexation efforts because the city doesn’t employ enough officers to cover the current city limits already. Those same council members sponsored a resolution earlier this month to endorse pay raises for police officers. 

The council debated an amendment allowing the Fraternal Order of Police to negotiate higher salaries with the city.

City Human Resources Director Caroline Shaw said the new pay grades will provide the flexibility to pay personnel higher base salaries. The changes made to the salaries means the affected officers will receive the additional compensation dating back to January 2021.

City Controller Jeff Underwood said there is no need to adjust the salaries for BPD supervisor sergeants since the city found they were in line with the market. Despite that, supervisor sergeants will receive a $5,000 retention bonus: $1,000 for each quarter worked from January 2021 through the first quarter of 2022.

The council also discussed the 2022 salaries for BPD and BFD employees. Many council members were still concerned with the proposed rates for these departments. 

Councilmember Rollo, in recent weeks, expressed support for increasing BPD officer pay. He said increases are a step in the right direction but that are not yet sufficient.

“If we’re going to be competitive with other jurisdictions around the state, we have to be competitive in our base salary pay,” Rollo said. “This is just a temporary measure, so it’s not adequate.”

The council also discussed fixing the salaries for all appointed officers, non-union employees and American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees for all city departments. In addition, council members debated the salary increase for all city elected officials.

When discussing the elected officials’ salaries, council members said they had their concerns with the lack of progress regarding the city’s climate action plan. While some council members approved of the fixing of elected official salaries, some were concerned that there isn’t enough sustainability personnel to tackle the climate action plan.

Although the city does have an assistant director of sustainability, Councilmember Matt Flaherty said this one position isn’t adequate for the work required.

“It’s to me not just a sort of organizational and hierarchical issue but also a capacity issue,” Flaherty said. “We might need multiple staff to implement the ambitious plan that we’ve developed and approved.”

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