MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - After five years of stagnant wages, Mandeville Police are looking for a pay increase.
Mandeville officers are some of the lowest-paid in the region, according to an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, but the Civil Service Board is now recommending a change, bumping police pay by 15 percent.
"We solve almost all of our crimes even when they're misdemeanors, minor crimes - many departments don't have time to look at that. We're solving them and making arrests," Sgt. Michael Ocman said. "Pretty much anyone who commits a crime in Mandeville, will get caught."
But the crime-fighting success is a double-edged sword, especially when police try to supplement their salaries.
"We don't have the overtime, we don't have the security details that many other departments have. We can't make the extra money outside because there's no need for many of these places to hire an extra detail officer. They don't have the crime, and we have a two or three minute response time. They don't see the need to hire us for outside work," Ocman said.
The City Council is currently working on the multi-million dollar budget and seriously considering raising pay for police and the rest of city employees by as much as 15 percent.
"I think we've got a huge responsibility now to invest in our employees. This is what it comes down to now as we go through the budget process, being able to determine what is that appropriate level of investment back to our employees," Councilman Rick Danielson said.
Mayor Donald Villere agrees that employees should get a raise across the board.
"Governments have a tendency to ride at a very low level and we had an opportunity to get some money into our general fund, and certainly we need to spend it on our most important assets, which is the people who do the work for the citizens," Villere said.
But when asked if the city could afford the recommended 15 percent increase, Villere isn't sure that's the mark.
"I think that's the upper level right there, quite honestly," Villere said. "I'm not sure that we're gonna be able to get to that 15 percent, but I think we can get higher than originally projected."
Danielson believes the 15 percent is something that should seriously considered.
"At the end of the day, maybe the right number is 15 percent, based off that recommendation, but we have to find what is the right number against the total budget. I want that number to be as high as it possibly can be because I believe in what all of our employees are doing across the city," Danielson said.
The budget is expected to be finalized by the end of August.