Opinion

Whitehead: Retaining Scottsdale staff is a top priority

Posted 6/21/22

The Scottsdale City Council must juggle many priorities to protect our constituents and safeguard Scottsdale.

The city budget is the tool council uses to turn priorities into action. In 2020, I …

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Opinion

Whitehead: Retaining Scottsdale staff is a top priority

Posted

The Scottsdale City Council must juggle many priorities to protect our constituents and safeguard Scottsdale.

The city budget is the tool council uses to turn priorities into action. In 2020, I successfully protected funding for our most vulnerable populations isolated by COVID. During that same year, city staff went without pay raises. With rising costs and expanded services and needs, this year’s budget increases pay for city staff and adds new positions.

However, the budget does not sufficiently remove pay disparity. The Scottsdale Police Department offers a visible example of the challenge we face. Compared to peers in other Valley cities, Scottsdale civilian and sworn officer pay is no longer competitive. I will be seeking to close pay gaps in this year’s budget.

Retaining employees makes financial sense and there is funding in the budget to do so today. Conversely, not taking action will cost taxpayers. It’s cheaper to retain police officers and other employees than it is to replace them.

Last year’s budget included positions that were never filled. Rather than sweeping the wage “savings” into the General Fund, these dollars should be invested in retaining employees.

From sworn police officers to mechanics, Scottsdale’s staff are being poached by other cities. In a letter to City Council, Damien Mendoza, president of Police Officers of Scottsdale Association, warned, “The city must act quick and take immediately measures to ensure we stand above all others or in the very near future, the city will be in a deficit of police officers that it will never overcome.”

I agree and the urgency to act ticked up another notch. Last week, the Phoenix City Council voted 8-1 to raise police wages by at least $20,000 per year.

Comments

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  • xway.mike.norton

    If "Retaining Scottsdale Staff Is A Top Priority", why did that just happen? Where was this "Top Priority" focus when the 2023 Budget was being drafted? Why is Whitehead proposing to reallocate funds to solve this problem? Why did she not listen to Fire and Police leaders when the 2023 Budget was being drafted? Phoenix leaders figured it out. Not Scottsdale's. Our City Council was too busy jousting with windmills.

    Like fighting the evil boogeyman who's building 10,000 new apartments (when in fact it takes nearly ten years to build 10,000 apartments). Like fighting for moratoriums on construction when we are deep in the middle of a serious housing crisis. Like campaigns to build more parks when we haven't come close to finishing the parks already started. And like ignoring the critical need for family-friendly housing as our population ages out and families leave for other cities.

    It's tough to lead when you're constantly looking in the rear view mirror to see what you screwed up.

    Wednesday, June 22 Report this

  • Oldjohn

    Mr. Norton, you are a little harsh. I do not see any other council member talking about the problem keeping staff, especially Police. I disagree with Ms. Whitehead on some issues and have told her so, but she is correct on this issue. As for Phoenix leaders figuring it out, they just offered a bounty until very recently. They are now in the process of doing what Ms. Whitehead is suggesting.

    Wednesday, June 22 Report this