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City Council Asks Police To Defer a Raise to Save Budget

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POSTED: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 6:41pm

UPDATED: Sunday, July 18, 2010 - 1:41pm

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.

Comments News Comments

With all the unemployed police officers and firefighters in bankrupt California, why not hire them? I heard this same fear campaign when I worked for the City of San Clemente back in the '70's, and Prop. 13 passed. Where is the next Howard Jarvis to put a cap on the ever increasing property tax for the citizens of El Paso? I hope he's out there!

This is getting rediculious of how the city/county are not aware of the problems they can fix in the system.Rather then coming to terms and say sorry for the over sight its easier to just cut a budget.

Heres a quick idea: Charge anyone with foreign plates and cars that actually live here a fine for not having a state inspection sticker on it. Plus, its the law that they have to have it for emmissions control in Texas. You did it for registration sticker why not inspections?

I will record the names of every city council member currently in office and then when they are up for re-election I will campaign against them for raising property taxes at this time when most of us have had no raises for 2 to 3 years and feel lucky to have job while the greedy "civil servants" in the police and fire departments (who are overpaid against the El Paso mean income) want raises. I say lay off some of them or deny them a raise. If they leave then someone else will glady take the job

That would be fantastic hdrod77! I've only lived in El Paso for three years, but with every passing day, El Paso is looking more and more like the city I came from, St. Louis, Missouri. One party rule for fifty years, a mayor and council who don't want to balance the budget. And a raise in taxes every year. That putz, Mayor Cook, wants another term! Are you kidding me? He's having a breakfast meeting tomorrow, 7am at the Village Inn, 2929 Mesa St..

That is great that you want to campaign against the council members. But, obviously you are not happy about not receiving your raise at your job. So doesn't it make sense that the police and fire departments deserve one too? You seem to know the feeling of having to go to work without your well deserved raise, so why are they not entitled to one as well? Were you aware that both departments have already forfeited their raise recently?

Leave our fire and police departments alone. We need them! If you have to get rid of people - take them from Joyce Wilson's numerous assistants. When we decided to go to the ciy manager type of government we had no idea we were also getting thirty thousand extra bodies to help her do her job on top of keeping the mayor and his thirty thousand bodies. If she can't do the job with the help of the people that were in place then maybe we should rethink why we need her OR the mayor!!!! NO NEW TAX

Police and Fire have to be the greediest of all city dept, and using Juarez as a excuse is pathetic. They really don't care about anything but themselves.

If you think that Fireman and Police do what they do solely for the money, you are delusional. When is the last time you risked your safety for a complete stranger that probably doesn't appreciate it anyway. Now do it every single day, short staffed, under equipped, and under paid.

You know, if police and fire employees didn't care about anything but themselves, would they be putting their life on the line every time they go to work and put strangers' well beings first? These departments have already forfeited raises before. I don't know you, but your response makes me wonder if perhaps you have had some negative run ins with the law. I hope you are not unlucky enough to be on the other end of an emergency with a shortage of fire and police assistance.

Did I forget to mention that the dispatchers are not allowed to take a day off, even for medical reasons? If they are under medication that makes them drowsy, they are still expected to show up to work! How is cutting services going to help??? Why is it that it seems a threat, "well, if the tax isn't passed, fire and police will lose salaries." I don't hear Joyce saying she'll take a salary cut!

Why doesn't the city council take a pay cut. The city council has already canceled the Police academy, we need officers and fire medical. If we don't have them we put our citizens lives at stake. Most citizens don't realize that our 911 dispatchers are running continuous overtime and its taking a toll on them. Response time from police, fire, medical, and dispatchers are already lagging due to the fact that they are severeley understaffed.

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