Koerber-Audette: Not causing hardship least we can do for those serving

By Holly Koerber-Audette

The Daily Advance

11 Comments | Leave a Comment

This year Elizabeth City faces a significant budget shortfall involving our local policemen’s work schedule and compensation. It is with sincere gratitude that I thank the City Council for deciding to reward our local law enforcement with consistency in their pay and schedules. Despite an accounting snafu — so to speak — and without addressing whose responsibility that is, this was a very important line in the sand to draw, particularly right now.

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Comments

So, if there is that much overtime...

then our PD is understaffed. Hire a few more police to work regular shifts. Ms. Koerber-Audette, you seem to have overlooked the underlying problem that raised this issue in Council, and your lauditory remarks.

Every investigation of a police-involved shooting includes review of the officer's work/rest schedule prior to the shooting. Tired people with guns make poor decisions -- with guns!

This is my desire for safety speaking common sense.

Respectfully Submitted,

Force 12

FORCE 12 -

Hi! This is not an OT issue. It is an "unbudgeted hours" issue. As I understand the timeline, back in the good old days (circa 1990, maybe 1987) the ECPD Chief changed patrol officers from a 40 to a 42 hour weekly schedule. Unfortunately, the budget # was never adjusted. Fast forward to 2012, when Interim Chief Manley changed the rest of the force to 42 hour work weeks. Thus, the recent "$200000 June budget surprise". Again, not OT, but "unbudgeted hours". Why these additional hours were not in our budget for so many years is unclear, but it is now being addressed. Rather than cut all ECPD officers back to 40 hour work weeks, City Council has apparently instructed City Manager Olson to attempt to find the needed funds (about $150000 this FY), so as not to impose an unintended pay cut on all our ECPD men & women. Would imagine, going forward, the correct # of hours will be in our budget! I am pleased that 1) this budget issue is (finally) being addressed and 2) if Council gets their way, it is being addressed in a manner that will not "punish" current members of the ECPD. God bless Chief Buffaloe and the entire ECPD! Bill Hiemer

Hmmm...

are they exempt or non-exempt, that is, salaried or hourly employees? If non-exempt, hourly wage employees, then the additional two hours is overtime, paid at least time and a half, which would amount to a base pay increase if scheduled as a regular and expected thing. Was this done with Council approval initially? IF exempt, salaried employees, then this could be viewed as wage theft, but since they apparently received the additional pay, it seems they are non-exempt, hourly employees. What a mess. Still, my question is valid - If there is that much actual, valid overtime, how many additional police could be hired for $200,000, if the starting pay is around $22,000? And, what is happening to police pay now? I don't think I've seen the plan going forward from here. See, my point? So, either this IS that much additional work, or there isn't. Which is it? My sense is that the police and Council have agreed not to air this out publicly. Either way, it's apparently a dead issue.

FORCE 12, PLEASE...

Please, believe me - this is NOT paid as OT! The add 2 hrs/wk are paid at normal hourly rate. Frustrating. Does it make sense to hire add officers (with appropriate benefits & equipment) to cover these add hrs? Maybe. I do not have enough info - and doubt you do either - to crunch the #s. Do agree the plan going forward is still under review by Council, who, in my opinion has not shown appropriate leadership on this issue. There is more to come...Bill Hiemer

Curiouser...

...and curiouser!

This feels like a workaround to raise pay without calling it a pay raise that would have required Council/Mayor approval.

I happen to agree that police should earn more, and I was shocked to read over their pay scale online.

Might be a good time to raise the possibility of combining city and county government into one entity to reduce overhead for both and streamline services throughout both systems.

Oh, I know, I know - too much ego invested in the status quo to make a leap like this.

Respectfully Submitted,

Force 12

WE WILL NEVER KNOW ..

FORCE 12 - Since the original switch to 42 hr work weeks apparently happened in 1990 (maybe 1986 or 87) for our patrol officers, we will probably never know the motivation. I choose to believe it was a Police Chief trying to provide additional coverage - maybe on a temporary basis - that became the new normal. Your opinion may be accurate. I sincerely hope not! When Interim Chief Manley changed the balance of the force to 42 hr weeks in 2012 (causing the unbudgeted hrs to generate the $200k overrun in the just past FY) I trust he was similarly motivated. Our current City Manager, Rich Olson,, would NEVER attempt to "workaround" Council to provide a pay raise. The fact that these add hrs were never budgeted, over so many years, is inexplicable, but apparently true. I do agree with your final comment! Bill Hiemer

Well, however...

it started, this stone killed both birds - scheduling and pay raise. Now it's time to address those birds, maybe. Although it certainly appears that this strange status quo might prevail.

Respectfully Submitted,

Force 12

AGREE, BUT ...

FORCE 12 - The "strange status quo" (you have a good way with words!) must include adjusting the budget to accommodate these "additional", but in the real world "normal" add 2 hrs/ wk. That part of the strange status quo has gone on way too long! Unfortunately too late for this FY, so Council must now find the $$$ or cut back the normal hrs to 40/wk. Unlike TDA I vote to keep our police presence as it is, find the add $$$ for this year (now projected to be $125k) & put the money in all future budgets. Too many bad actors in and around E.C. Unlike some of my friends/associates I have no problem paying for effective police (and teachers). With a tax increase, if necessary. Does add $$$ = "effective"? In my experience (sales & sales mgt in NYC & LI) the best people win, and add $$$ help retain & attract the best people. I believe Council will find the $$$ to maintain our current police protection ...Bill Hiemer

Patriot and 2headsrbetterthan1

I concur fully.

EXTRAORDINARY COLUMN

Mrs. Holly Koerber- Audette , Thank-you for your thoughts on both our local police/budget situation and police officers in general. I agree 100% on both fronts! Deeply appreciate your continued display of wisdom & common sense. As a side note, hopefully you saw the political cartoon that appeared just under your column today. With respect, Bill Hiemer

Good Job Holly

Everything you've said is true and I thank you for saying it.

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