2016 budget discussions are underway. On August 4th and again on August 25th, the AMPA board took the opportunity to address the Arlington City Council to provide information that we felt would help them to make informed decisions that could benefit our members when discussing compensation packages.
During the afternoon session of the June 23rd council meeting, City Manager Trey Yelverton addressed the City Council by stating the following in regards to the our compensation package:
"Actually, I was speaking to one of the labor leaders yesterday as far as what really is our goal here at the end of the day. I would argue that being at the 50 percentile of the market is a goal to try to achieve. We are short of that goal but it’s something that we have to keep the metric in front of us and incrementally work to that as we move forward. So instead of positioning ourselves are we number 10 out of 13 or number four out of 13, I’m thinking we ought to look at what the average number is at the mean of the market and work towards that number."
(Video available at City of Arlington website, City Council Meeting and Minutes, June 23, 2015, 2:54.03)
During our August 4th attendance, we provided information that gave a perspective different than that presented by Mr. Yelverton. We spoke before the council and brought up several points which included highlights from the Wall Street Journal article titled “Congratulations, Class of 2015. You’re the Most Indebted Ever. (For Now)” published on May 8, 2015. The article described the debt of students graduating from college in 2015. Of the many points made, the most intriguing facts were:
- The average 2015 college student will graduate having to pay back just over $35,000 in debt
- 71% of 2015 graduates with a bachelor’s degree will have student loans (up from less than 50% two decades ago and about 64% a decade ago)
- Approximately 17% of the 2015 college graduates will have parents who have taken out loans on their student’s behalf
The point made by AMPA was that the Arlington Police Department requires a college degree and therefore we need to have a compensation package that will allow us to remain competitive in the market place. We spoke about the falling numbers of applicants with the police department as well as the incentives being offered across the metroplex by other agencies to attract applicants such as alternate work schedules and take home cars (both of which save the employee money). We also further explained that current employees are being enticed to leave the city by benefits offered by other agencies as illustrated by the recent departure of four employees to Grand Prairie PD.
We provided the council with a copy of a new salary survey conduct by the Texas Municipal Police Association at the request of the AMPA board. The salary survey showed our officers were approximately 2.08% below the market. Additionally, we pointed out that our sergeants and lieutenants were well below the market average. We expressed our belief that if the trend was not addressed, we would see the Arlington Police Department become the police training grounds for the Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex where officers received their TCOLE licensing in the basic academy and leave for the better benefits offered by other municipalities.
During our August 25th attendance, we provided information about what cities in Texas were doing to address the rising costs of medical coverage for their employees. Specifically, we gave examples of three self-inured cities (Bedford, Carrolton, and Pasadena) that have city owned or funded medical clinics that offer medical services to city employees, dependents, and retirees for free or at a significantly reduced cost.
We will upload a copy of the Wall Street Journal article, the TMPA salary survey, and the medical contracts mentioned above to the website for members to view. Notably, we have been invited by a few of the council members to meet and openly discuss issues. We encourage all to take a look at the information provided and know that we are working towards the goal of make Arlington PD a true employer of choice.