Thursday, March 22, 2018

PD pay bumped up in effort to attract, retain veteran officers

Money in the budget due to staffing shortages

In an effort to attract and retain veteran law enforcement officers at the Columbus Police Department, the Columbus City Council has approved a pay bump.
Presented by Columbus Police Chief Jacob Ward at Monday night’s council meeting, Ward successfully argued for the change in the pay scale, telling the council the current pay matrix is “affecting our ability to recruit and retain experienced officers.”
Ward and Officers Gary Timm and Kelly Mason are currently covering all the shifts, with the help of a part-time officer who Ward said is working 30 hours a week. Ward’s role as the Columbus School Districts resource officer has been suspended due to the manpower shortage.
The increases for current officers will range from $2.01 to $5.31 and will go into effect on the next pay cycle. Ward said the pay bump has the most impact on the part-time officer – Steve Hopsiter – and new officers. Hopsiter’s hourly wage will go up by $5.31.
Ward presented the council with a wage comparison to other local law enforcement agencies that shows CPD coming in at the bottom. The following are the starting wages for area agencies (non POST):
•Columbus Police Department: $18.18
•Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office: $21.42
•Montana Highway Patrol: $22.79
•Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks: $21.54
•Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office: $24.70
•Billings Police Department: $23.94
•Carbon County Sheriff’s Office: $27

Deputy City Clerk Kisha Miller told the council there is money in the budget to make the change due to the department being two officers down, and that is expected to continue for two more months.
With limited questions from the council, the request was approved.
Other council business included the following:

For the second consecutive meeting, the council tabled the matter of City Clerk Ron Barndt being the only employee to have all of his health insurance benefits paid and possible actions to rectify what – if anything – could be done as one employee received more than the others.
Barndt had included the full payment of benefits in his budget, but that is not the normal method. The council did approve his budget without realizing the benefit payment was included.
When it was brought to the council’s attention, it requested more information in light of the discovery that one employee had received more than the others. Mayor Gary Woltermann said Monday night that he had asked Barndt to be present but Barndt had another commitment. Two council members were also absent. The matter was moved to the next meeting so the entire council could deal with it.

The council approved a reimbursement packet request for $8,113.61 from the Airport Board for engineering costs associated with the “design of the airside pavement rehabilitation project.”

The council approved the Sandstone Estates annexation plan and adopted a resolution for the roughly 4-acre section of land by Engineering West on behalf of Andrew and Adrian Newell who are developing the seven-lot subdivision. All improvements required are in place and the plat was scheduled to be filed in the Stillwater County Clerk & Recorder’s Office this week.