SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced a 30% increase in pay for entry level police officers Friday.
Speaking at a briefing with members of the city's police department and unions, Mendenhall's proposal also includes a 12% increase in pay for senior level officers. City employees in other areas, such as airport, maintenance crews and 911 dispatchers, are also expected to receive a 4.5% raise this year.
Firefighters in the city would receive a pay increase of 4% that Mendenhall claims would bring their wages to the top of the market in the region.
"If we, as a city, want the best employees, we can't pay them below the market. We just can't," said Mendenhall.
The mayor said two of the unions have already agreed to the proposal and is awaiting word from the firefighters union.
Raises would come immediately instead of rising over several years as the city has done in the past.
"Whatever short-term financial gains the city may have earned from this approach came at the expense of declining employee moral and retention," said Mendenhall. "It's no wonder that higher paying jobs in neighboring municipalities have looked so appealing."
Mendenhall says the large pay increase makes sense instead of spending even more to train new officers when others leave. She added that the police department is currently down 63 officers.
"It's the city that ultimately loses out, and the strategy of nickel-and-diming our talented and committed workers hurts us in the end," Mendenhall said.
According to Mendenhall, seven local governments in Utah currently pay their police officers more than Salt Lake City, something that she's promising to end.
"The best trained and the most professional police department in the state is also about to become the highest paying police department," said Mendenhall.