SANTA FE – Santa Fe city government’s budget for the next fiscal year includes pay raises averaging 10.5% for police officers, Mayor Alan Webber said.
Webber said the police pay increases are “front-loaded” toward the first seven years that officers work for the city.
Santa Fe officials have said they needed to boost police pay to keep up with higher salaries offered by the Albuquerque Police Department, which hired away at least 10 or 11 Santa Fe officers the last year or so.
In January, the city offered retention bonuses of $4,700 to officers agreeing to stay with the SFPD for six months, while a new contract was negotiated with the police union. The union’s leader said recently that the union was satisfied with the pay plan offered by the city.
The new $102 million general fund budget, an increase of about $6 million over the current year, was approved by the City Council Wednesday night and also includes 2% pay increases for other city workers.
Webber said earlier Wednesday that his finance staff told him he could choose to do “all kinds of cool stuff” or “pay people what they deserve.” So salaries became the focus of the new budget, the first proposed by Webber since his election last year, with $4.5 million of the spending increase going toward pay raises.
The spending plan fully funds recommendations made in a classification and compensation study from last year, which showed that pay for many rank-and-file employees lagged behind those in similar-sized cities.
But Webber said there are also new initiatives in the budget, including $1 million for a long-delayed teen center on Santa Fe’s south side. State government has provided another $1.1 million for that project.
Also in the budget, according to Webber, are $195,000 in new funding for rent, utility cost and other housing support grants; the creation of a “telecom manager” to develop and implement a plan to improve Santa Fe’s weak wireless and cell phone services; three new positions in the Land Use Department to intended to speed up and improve permitting and other operations; and three positions to expand on the city’s diversion program to send low-level offenders toward treatment instead of incarceration.
The city is projecting a $700,000 increase in revenue by increasing franchise fees charged to PNM, which the electric utility is expected to pass on to customers. Land use fees are also going up.