The Pilot News
Council supports wage increase for police, other benefits possible
PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Common Council supported a $5,000 wage increase for the Plymouth Police Department (PPD, anticipated to take effect by april.
Human Resources Manager Jennifer Klingerman presented the recommendation.
a committee was formed in January to address the declining staff at PPD. That committee includes Councilman Duane Culp, Don Ecker, Plymouth Board of Public Works member Bill Walters, City of Plymouth attorney Sean Surrisi, Klingerman, Plymouth Police Chief David Bacon, and City of Plymouth Clerk-treasurer Lynn Gorski, when needed.
Surrisi said the intention of presenting the proposal was to illustrate the findings of the committee and move the discussion forward: “Seeing there’s momentum for approving this, we will get the draft of the Revised Salary Ordinance prepared and presented to you next meeting.”
In order to retain current employees and attract new employees, the City of Plymouth already implemented a Lateral Transfer Policy last august to ensure certain benefits earned with longevity would not be lost if an officer sought employment with PPD from another department.
a ‘Take Home Car Policy’ will be implemented March 1 expanding use of PPD vehicles within Marshall County; currently officers are allowed to drive their vehicle to and from work and home. Chief Bacon has been approved to establish and make adjustments to that policy as needed.
In addition to the three vehicles being purchased this year, Chief Bacon will also need an additional two vehicles for the fleet, for a total of 25 in order to provide every officer with a vehicle.
Councilman Greg Compton recommended the ‘Take Home Car Policy’ include adjoining counties and be expanded to unlimited use. “I would propose adding that to tonight’s increase and I think it’s probably vital for us to do that as soon as we can,” he said.
Councilman Robert Listenberger echoed Compton’s recommendation noting retention is equally important to recruitment.
Chief Bacon was in favor of opening the policy up to include adjoining counties; but wanted to be respectful to the budget. Not only have fuel costs been impacted by inflation, but a substantial increase in fuel consumption has not been built in to the budget for 2023.
Street Superintendent Jim Marquardt addressed fuel orders and cost. He asked for clarification on “unlimited use” of the vehicle; whether that would be that officers could drive their vehicle out of county for recreation such as to drive to the mall — or if the accommodation was so that out of county officers could drive their vehicle to and from work. If the vehicle can be used for unlimited driving
including recreation in Marshall and surrounding counties, Marquardt said that will change fuel consumption for the City of Plymouth substantially.
Houin asked if discussions were taking place beyond the committee to include officers who are directly impacted by the recommendations and decisions being made.
Based on discussions with officers, Chief Bacon affirmed salary increases, increased use of vehicles, increases in clothing allowances, and the updated beard policy all help with retention and attraction. Some benefits mean more to some officers than others, but all were helpful.
Ecker, who also sits on the committee, expressed hesitation on approving everything at once. He said the committee is taking the critical items and implementing change along the way. He wasn’t opposed to any of the benefits; but encouraged the Council and the Chief to consider fiscal responsibility in the name of sustainability.
Compton said the expense of the benefits would be worth retaining and attracting officers.
Culp said the fuel cost increase would not be damaging unless someone abuses it; which would be tracked by Chief Bacon. He agreed the benefit would outweigh the cost, but Clerk Treasurer Gorski and Chief Bacon need time to review the budget and implement those changes incrementally.
Mayor Mark Senter said in all his years of service he has not micromanaged department heads, but respectfully requested implementing changes in trial periods and in stages. He said he appreciates everyone’s efforts and input.
Councilman Jeff Houin illustrated the solutions will have to be ongoing and further discussions will be needed to retain current officers and attract new ones. He recommended Chief Bacon consider all the recommendations, including that of the committee, and provide feedback during the next council meeting after he has had an opportunity to explore and review those possibilities.
Compton recommended the clerk and Chief Bacon also review the cost of losing an employee and training new ones. Ecker said was a fair point, and expressed agreement with Houin’s illustration that it will be an evolving process. He expressed support of the wage increase, but was against dramatic action in every area all at once.
Compton expressed contentment with tabling the further recommendation of expanding the ‘Take Home Car Policy’ at this time; but noted all council members have done research in to the issue and their feedback should be considered as well as recommendations from the committee.
Klingerman assured the council she and Gorski have reviewed the salary increase and it would not cause any additional appropriations for 2023 to implement; the increases is already built in the budget and no money would need moved.