Sunday, March 8, 2009
Pay Increases Proposed for Chief of Police and Municipal Judge
An ordinance increasing the annual salaries of the Chief of Police and Municipal Judge had its first reading at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Raytown Board of Aldermen. The increases would be effective after the April 7th municipal election for the next four year term of each office. The current office holders for the two seats, Chief of Police Jim Lynch and Municipal Judge Traci Fann are unopposed in their bids for re-election. How Much? The Municipal Judge currently draws a salary of $24,407.78 annually. The proposed ordinance sets the new salary $25,628.17. The Municipal Judge is a part time position. According to a report from the city staff entitled “Compensation History of the Marshal (Chief of Police)”; the Chief of Police currently draws a salary of $86,821.88 annually. The proposed ordinance sets the new salary incrementally over a four-year period. The total salary at the end of four years will be $96,742.87. The Chief of Police is a full time job. The breakdown of the pay increases for Municipal Judge and Chief of Police are as follows: MUNICIPAL JUDGE: Current Annual Salary................$24,407.78 Proposed Annual Salary..............$25,628.17 Percentage increase over four years.........5% CHIEF OF POLICE: Current Annual Salary.................$86,821.88 Proposed Annual Salary*..............$96,742.87 *Increased incrementally at 5% the first year, 2% years 2, 3, and 4. Percentage increase over four years..........9% Fireworks Ordinance Passes The Board of Aldermen approved a new Fireworks Ordinance at its March 3, 2009 meeting. The changes in the ordinance were two fold. SHOOTING OF FIREWORKS: The ordinance allows the shooting of fireworks on the Fourth of July until 11:00 p.m. at night. SALE OF FIREWORKS: The ordinance allows the sale of fireworks for a seven day period prior to the Fourth of July. It requires a license (with a limit of ten licenses in any given year) to be administered by the Raytown Fire District. Licenses to sell fireworks are available only to non-profit organizations based in Raytown. The ordinance also restricts the sale of fireworks to areas that are commercially or industrially zoned. Need for Reform in Elected Salary Increase Rules The pay increase packages proposed for the Municipal Judge and Chief of Police throw a glaring spotlight on how salaries are increased at City Hall for elected official. On the 11th day, at the 11th hour, the Board of Aldermen will increase the salaries for the two positions. Waiting until after the filing deadline to raise salaries for elected officials, be they Aldermen, Municipal Judge, Chief of Police or City Collector smacks of elitism. It has the appearance of an attempt to sneak in a pay increase before the new Board of Aldermen is sworn in. City attorney Nancy Thompson was quick to tell the Board that the ordinances enabling the pay increases after a filing deadline were valid under Missouri State Law. That may be true – but it is also irrelevant. It is not a question of legality. It is a question of fairness and even-handed treatment of all those who run for election in the City of Raytown. Pay increases for four year terms of office should be considered at least six months before they take effect. In short, Raytown should set a higher standard when it comes to increasing pay of elected officials. Good and Bad news . . . According to figures released by the County Executive’s office in Jackson County, Missouri, the City of Raytown has been the hardest hit in the area by falling property values. The drop in property values will have a negative effect on the amount of money for any entity collecting property tax in Raytown. The numbers were based on property evaluations made in Jackson County for next year’s property taxes. The county used the geographic areas of the school districts to make their comparison. Coming in a close second behind the Raytown area was the Hickman Mills School District. And the good news is that Raytown will be receiving $378,061 for street improvements due to the national incentive programs coming out of Washington, DC. Combined with money already budgeted for road improvements now exceeds the 1 million dollar mark. The Raytown Police Department is also in line to receive approximately $40,000.00 of the incentive money for use in public safety.