Sgt. Dave Davis said if he had wanted to be rich, he never would have become a policeman. He and other officers do, however, want enough pay to support their families.
Davis, a nine-year-veteran of the Springville Police department, said Friday that if the City Council approves a proposed pay scale, some safety officers will not get merit or cost-of-living raises for as many as five years. He added that a government survey shows these officers are already substantially underpaid.The researcher who did the city survey interviewed Springville employees on their pay and duties to determine comparable worth for comparable responsibilities.
"The city says I'm earning too much already, but the government survey says I'm underpaid."
Springville's 13 police department employees want a better deal for themselves and other safety officers, Davis said. Officers are using their off-duty time to prepare a counterproposal to submit to city officials Monday.
"Most cities have a step-and-grade system that dictates pay raises for the first eight years of employment. Springville has never had a system, but the one they are considering will hurt our families financially."
Davis said Springville has only one fire official on staff. According to the Utah state municipal survey, that man is earning $600 less than he should per month. According to Springville's survey, the man earns $200 more than he should each month, Davis said.
The state survey said a beginning patrolman should earn about $21,000 a year, Davis said. Springville pays a recent hiree $17,000, he added.
The state survey said new dispatchers should begin at $13,000 a year and the most experienced dispatchers should be getting $17,000, Davis said. Most of Springville's dispatchers, regardless of experience, earn around $13,000, Davis said, and some earn less.
"We want to be as fair as we can," he said. "We understand Springville doesn't have a tremendous tax base like larger cities. We hope city fathers will agree to friendly negotiations. We just want to protect our families and our retirement."
Richard Manning, Springville city recorder, said he preferred not to comment on the issue until there were more developments.
"We haven't even approved the proposal, so it would be a little premature to start bashing it around in the press," he said Friday.
Davis said officers do not begrudge the pay raises that may be offered to some employees as a result of the city study.
"They have been very underpaid for a long time, and deserved a raise long before this."
He added that neighboring Spanish Fork has given officers a 3 percent cost-of-living increase every year. Springville has never had such a policy, he said, but "low-paid officers knew previous City Councils were being as generous as they could."
The current council and mayor are "pretty bad," he said.
In addition to the financial argument, Davis said officers feel pay reflects their worth to the city; low pay makes them feel unappreciated. Davis said officers do not see striking as a productive answer to the problem. They hope the city will agree to negotiation.