By: Jesse Davis
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The Swanton Village Council again began a discussion on pay raises during its Monday meeting, this time for police officers.
Like departments throughout northwest Ohio and across the country, Swanton has struggled to hire and retain officers. At the Council meeting, for example, it was reported that a lieutenant had resigned to accept a position with the Delta Police Department, which recently increased its pay scale for officers.
“We know that there’s constant pressure on folks to move to other departments that pay more than we pay,” Mayor Neil Toeppe said.
“The public says we should be paying the police force more so that we can retain them, however we are pretty well constrained by the budget.”
As a result of those constraints, Toeppe has asked Police Chief John Trejo (who was sworn in during the meeting) to look at the budgets of comparably sized departments to determine what he believed to be an appropriate level of pay in Swanton and to report that to Financial Director Holden Benfield.
While no estimate for Swanton officer pay has yet been generated, information on pay levels for surrounding communities have already been collected.
Toeppe said average officer pay is $29 at the Waterville department, $29.39 at Lucas County, $30.67 at Holland (Swanton’s approximate upper limit), $31 at Whitehouse, $34 at the University of Toledo, $36 at Ottawa Hills and Toledo, $37 at Maumee, Perrysburg, and Sylvania, and $38 at Sylvania Township.
He indicated that the Whitehouse and Waterville departments were the most similar in size and scope to the Swanton department, where starting pay is currently $18.54.
The only other example of starting pay given was for the Delta department, which is currently $23.32.
The mayor has directed Benfield to take Chief Trejo’s eventual pay recommendations to the county auditor to determine what the cost to the public would be if that additional funding was generated through a public service levy. Currently, police department wages are paid exclusively from the Village’s general fund.
“If we have a separate funding mechanism for the police department, that takes pressure off the general fund,” Toeppe said.
“And those monies that were coming out of the general fund to support the police department would now remain in the general fund and could support other village services.”
To institute a levy would first require a public vote, and Toeppe indicated such a vote would not take place this year as there was yet a lot of work to be done.
During the public comment period of the meeting, an African-American Swanton couple reported their son had been racially targeted and that the officers involved seemed to be biased. Ernest and Kawana Hunter also said the Village chooses not to accept diversity and inclusion.
The Hunters were supported by Brother Washington Muhammed of the Nation of Islam as well as fellow Swanton resident Anika S. Fields.
Fields, who referred to herself as an expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion, claimed she and her family were also the victims of hate crimes and racial microagressions within the village.
She recommended the village create and appoint her as head of a committee to address the issues she saw in the community.
Neither Fields nor the Hunters chose to comment after the meeting and did not provide any further comments prior to the time of publication.
The council approved on first reading an ordinance to increase compensation for the mayor and council members.
Two additional readings and public hearings will be required before a final vote on the ordinance, which would only affect those individuals elected after its passing.
The council accepted a request for annexation of a 3.23-acre parcel in Swancreek Township. The residential-zoned lot will be the site of a new house.
The Council ended the public portion of the meeting by going into executive session to discuss “matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or regulations or state statutes.”
Jesse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The post SWANTON VILLAGE COUNCIL: Police Compensation Discussed By Council first appeared on The Village Reporter.
Source: The Village Reporter