Wages for the Clarinda Police Department were the focus of discussion during a budget workshop held Jan. 27 by the Clarinda City Council.
Council member Matt Ridge raised the question of whether or not the current wages paid to Clarinda police officers was contributing to the turnover within the department during the initial budget workshop held Jan. 13. During the discussion, Brother explained three officers left the department in 2020. Two of those police officers left law enforcement all together, while the third took a position with the Page County Sheriff’s Office due to the hire salary that was available.
With that hire, Brothers said the last three deputies added to the Sheriff’s Department had come from the Clarinda Police Department. Therefore, the council asked Brothers to research what comparable departments were paying their officers.
Clarinda City Manager Gary McClarnon said Brothers provided him with those comparisons. Given the size of the communities and their locations, McClarnon said he felt the best comparisons were with the Shenandoah and Red Oak Police Departments.
“At the end of the day, our competition is not only the Sheriff’s Department, but also Shenandoah and Red Oak. Basically, we’re the ones that are going to compete for the officer positions as well as the county,” McClarnon said.
In order to pay Clarinda officers the same as the police officers in Shenandoah, McClarnon said the city would be looking at a 3.56% wage increase. This would be an additional cost of $6,500 in wages and benefits.
Matching the wages paid by Red Oak would require a 6.5% pay increase. That would be an increase of $20,000 in wages and benefits.
“Personally, I don’t think matching it with Shenandoah is a big jump. Red Oak is quite a bit of a jump, but Shenandoah at least would be something,” council member Jamie Shore said.
In terms of the budget process, McClarnon said he separated the possible increases into wages and benefits. The portion of the increase to match Shenandoah that would be paid from the General Fund would reduce the fund balance by $5,500. The remaining $1,100 would be paid from the Employee Benefit Fund.
“We could change the levy to pay for that, but honestly we can take that out of the reserves for the employee benefit fund. That way you can leave the levy rate where it’s at. So, basically what you’re doing is lowering the reserve balance in both those accounts,” McClarnon said.
No decision was made on changing the proposed wages for police officers during the meeting. The council members will review the figures and discuss their options further at their next meeting Feb. 10.