ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis Police Union leaders are sounding the alarm — the exodus of officers from the city may be worse than what was originally predicted.

Newly released survey results show 73 percent of those polled have either applied to other departments, or plan to do so within the next year. A little more than a quarter of the city’s police force participated in the survey.

Most say it’s because the city doesn’t pay as much as its neighbors currently do. Once Prop P raises take effect in the county next year, the gap will be even wider.

St. Louis Police Officers Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda tells KMOX’s Mark Reardon that the county is planning to hire about 120 officers.

“We do know that the other 90 municipalities in St. Louis County are divvying up $40 million to spend on raising their police salaries and increasing the size of their police department.”

Voters will consider a half cent sales tax hike in November to give city officers raises, but Roorda says there’s a small problem.

“The mayor refuses to guarantee that even a penny of that money will go to police officers’ raises,” Roorda says.

“After seeing these numbers, I’d be happy if we only lose 100 officers,” Roorda said in a statement. “If we go that many officers short, it’s going to be a bloodbath … if we don’t do something and do it fast, we’re going to be exporting cops and importing crime in the city.”

The city wants to set aside $12.8 million of the estimated $19.5 million the tax would bring in for officer raises.

Koran Addo, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, says where the money will go is in writing. It’s outlined in the bill. But Addo says the SLPOA recently said it wants all of the police department’s future money to go toward salary increases. Right now, the city plans to give each officer a $10,000 overall increase — which includes pension contributions. He estimates that will result in a $6,000 salary bump and a $4,000 increase to each officer’s pension.

If those raises take effect, starting officers will be about on par with St. Louis County — that is, of course, until Prop P money starts coming in and county officers get their estimated 30 percent bump.

“We need to close that gap,” Addo told KMOX. “We need to come close to closing that gap. [The sales tax increase] is a good start. A sales tax is not preferable, it’s regressive, it disproportionately affects the poor. But with the county passing Prop P, we have to do something. We’re already down 114 officers; it’s pretty serious.”

The bill also includes $5.4 million for St. Louis Fire Department raises, and $1.2 million for the Circuit Attorney’s office.

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