Salary Band Proposed for Police Director
The announcement of a "salary band" for police director Monday reflects restoration of a rule that the person in charge of the Police Division must receive 5 percent more than the next-in-command.
That had been the guideline when the city had a police chief, although because raises for the non-union employees took on a random pattern since 2006, former Police Chief Edward Santiago was not making more than his captains. In fact, when his title was abolished and he took the option of staying on as captain, his pay actually increased.
The proposed salary band for the civilian police director will be set at $97,163 to $131,310, if the council approves the salary ordinance on two readings.
Considering that the administration remembered to establish the posts of confidential aide and public information officer by salary ordinances, it is a bit curious that the action was never taken for the title of police director. Martin Hellwig, director of Public Affairs & Safety, was additionally named police director in April 2008 and drew only one salary for both jobs.
Hellwig was sworn in on Jan. 1 again to both posts, to serve concurrently with the mayor's four-year term ending Dec. 31, 2013.
The re-election of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs means nobody has to sort out the salary jumble of the cabinet. In the past, all three department heads received the same compensation, as did the police and fire chiefs. With the drift of compensation since 2006, about a year ago the fire chief was making more than the city administrator and the department heads' salaries were no longer aligned. Had a new mayor been elected, that person would have faced putting together a cabinet at salaries lower than those of subordinates.
The fire chief's salary in February 2009 was $113,480, as per an Open Public Records Act request to Personnel Director Karen Dabney. It is ironic in a way that raises were apparently granted for that title, because several years ago the city took action to bring the police and fire chiefs' salaries in alignment. The state police union mandated the 5 percent differential for the police chief, but there was no such rule for fire chiefs. A former fire chief was making much less than his deputies. Whether the administration deliberately held back on the police chief's raises or whether it was an oversight, the imbalance recurred, now to the benefit of the fire chief.
The dozen or so non-represented officials used to receive salary increases by ordinance, but the last time that happened to this writer's recollection was before Peter Sepelya retired as chief finance officer. He and City Clerk Laddie Wyatt received raises in March 2006 retroactive to 2003. Since Sepelya left at the end of 2007, there has been no permanent CFO. Wyatt's salary has continued to increase, from $101,498 in 2006 to $112,805 in February 2009, 3 percent more than the city administrator.
Even if top officials agree to take less pay for whatever reason, 2010 seems like a good time to do a comprehensive review of salary bands for the non-union titles and to restore parity. Future candidates need to know what they are getting into and may not be willing to take pot luck in their paycheck.