PANO hopes police pay raises are part of Landrieu budget

PANO hopes police pay raises are part of Landrieu budget

As Mayor Mitch Landrieu prepares to outline his proposed budget for 2015, many hope it will include something it hasn't in nearly seven years - a police pay raise.

The city has experienced a remarkable increase in sales tax revenues. Part of the surplus is due to the opening of five new big box stores across town: Costco, Winn Dixie and Walmarts, and an unprecedented increase in city tax money.

"That's the great news, and it's really excellent," said Landrieu.

"We're a city that has a sales tax increase of 9 percent. I don't think any other city in America has seen that," said city Councilman Jared Brossett.

So where will the extra money be spent? Last month, Brossett sent a letter asking the mayor to consider 10-15 percent police pay raises in hopes of boosting police manpower by as many as 500 officers.

Civil Service has proposed 20 percent increases.

"Give them a raise that goes up to the regional salary standards, and go 10 percent on top of that," said PANO attorney Eric Hessler.

A police association spokesman says increasing pay is the only way to increase manpower.

"If they want to hold themselves out as the best in the region, they need to pay.' said Hessler.

The surplus has already gone to work for the NOPD. in September it allowed City Hall to restore $4 million previously cut from the department, but the mayor won't say just yet, if that surplus will allow for raises in 2015.

"I'm going to give you that during the budget presentation," said the mayor.

While the mayor says his 2015 budget will include a rare surplus, he urges caution with all the city needs still on the table.

"The sheriff's consent decree, the police consent decree, other liabilities - the firefighters' pension funds always make it much harder to go as fast and as far as you want to," said Landrieu.

But the mayor says he's determined to keep trying.

PANO said pay raises are needed to stop an abysmal police attrition rate which they say is causing a public safety problem. They are expecting some type of pay raise proposal. Landrieu will present the 2015 budget to the City Council Wednesday at 11 a.m., kicking off a series of council hearings.

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