City Council Asks Police To Defer a Raise to Save Budget
POSTED: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 5:41pm
UPDATED: Sunday, July 18, 2010 - 12:41pm
City manager Joyce Wilson presented her budget proposal to the city council Tuesday. The budget includes a 3 percent property tax increase.
Things heated up at City Hall when the mayor and city council members were asked to make a tough decision: raise taxes or cut services.
Defer a pay increase--that's the city's message to El Paso police in order to balance the budget. Council members told Ron Martin, president of the El Paso Municipal Police Officer Association, that they have to meet them halfway.
"Last year they asked us to defer, we did," Martin said. "They asked us to give back some of our paid holidays, we did. Now all of a sudden we're in the same problem again."
"I can understand the police association not wanting to reopen the contract though the financial implications of that for the city are huge," said city manager Joyce Wilson.
One suggested alternative to raising taxes is lowering city employee salaries, but Wilson says freezing salaries is enough.
"We need to keep our pay competitive for the workforce and if we need to do that then we will do that but we're not at a point I don't think where that's warranted,"
While no one spoke in favor of the tax, a few stepped up to the podium to express their concerns.
"I don't support a property tax increase because I don't have any more money," said Salvador Gomez, a concerned citizen.
"This council has not budgeted correctly," said Lieutenant Commander Raul Castaneda, another concerned citizen. "And they did not listen to us citizens telling them you're wasting our dollars."
Martin agrees, and said living next to the murder capitol of the world means investing in El Paso's police and fire departments.
"Quit spending money on your little pet projects and put that money into the core departments of the city," Martin said.