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.
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