AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police officers are fighting for higher pay raises following the announcement of a proposed pay raise for all city of Austin employees.
After a year and a half of negotiations between the city of Austin and the police union, there’s a renewed push for a resolution to the Austin Police Department contract.
With negotiations in limbo, Austin Police President Ken Casaday says most officers have seen a decrease in pay, and about 10 officers are leaving the department every month because the money they’re being offered is not good enough.
“It’s very clear that everybody in the city has been getting much bigger pay raises over the last five to six years,” said Casaday.
City Manager Spencer Cronk sent out a memo Tuesday outlining the proposed across-the-board 2.5 percent pay increase for all city of Austin employees.
“I recognize that living and working in Austin can be expensive, and I worked hard to ensure employees are provided for in this budget,” Cronk said in the memo.
Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo said it is part of the council’s commitment to city employees to ensure they’re adjusting salaries to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Casaday says cost of living is also an issue for officers.
“Most of our officers live in the Bastrop, Cedar Park, Round Rock areas and until they pay a wage to where people can live here, then, that’s not gonna happen,” said Casaday.
According to Casaday, the department is losing on average 10 officers a month because the city’s raise just hasn’t been good enough.
“We’ll continue to lose officers, which will make this a dangerous city to live in,” said Casaday.
Tovo says it’s about balancing the budget and the city’s priorities.
“Making sure that we have a contract that is fair to the officers and also acknowledges the really important community considerations that were raised is important,” said Tovo.
According to a recent audit, as of Aug. 1, citywide patrol capacity was at 82 percent total staffing, with 84 vacancies and 52 officers on long-term leave.
All pay and benefits for public safety personnel are outlined in contracts with unions, and contract negotiations with the APD and EMS union are still ongoing, but the city says they are a top priority and look forward to finalizing them in the near future.