CLAYTON. Mo. (KMOX) – Members of the St. Louis County police department say six months after voters approved the Prop P sales tax measure, it’s time for members of the county council to sign off on their long-delayed pay increase.
“The men and women of the St. Louis County police department have suffered with stale and putrid salaries for over a decade,” police officer Derek Machens told the council Thursday evening. “Due to these contraints many of the officers, like myself, have been forced to work one or two other jobs to support our families. The time that should have been spent with my son was spent putting on my uniform again to ensure that the lights stay on and that there’s food on the table.”
Machens was among dozens of uniformed officers who jammed into the council chambers, many of them stepping to the podium to present their personal stories.
That included Sgt. David Ryan.
“During Ferguson I had a daughter born, and I had to leave to go to Ferguson,” he explained. “That’s just sad. We have been through the worst of worst times, and the best of best. And we’re trying to get back up.”
He said that would require the council to finally sign off on a nearly $19 million package that has been put on hold numerous times by the council.
County council chairman Sam Page has said repeatedly he’s all for approving the pay raises for police officers, and that they’re much deserved and long overdue.
But he added that he still hasn’t been given a satisfactory answer when it comes to his questions about how the pay package would impact the police pension system.
“It’s just not responsible to pass a large pay increase that we all want without completely understanding the impact on the police pension, which is currently under-funded,” Page said.
The measure before the council would create an average pay raise to county police personnel of around 30%.
Those with more experience would get higher raises in the wake of stagnant pay hikes in the past.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the most critical service government can provide is creating a safe environment for those citizens that live in our community,” explained St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar. “To do that we must have outstanding, dedicated and courageous police officers who are willing to face the dangers on behalf of the innocent.”
With only four council members present at the time the vote was taken, a motion to approve the budget and pay raises was voted down and will be taken up again during next week’s council meeting.