The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

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April 24, 2014

Misenheimer Council considers police pay increase

Thursday, April 24, 2014 — The village of Misenheimer will consider a 6 percent salary increase for its police officers in 2014-2015 fiscal year.

At the last village meeting, council members unanimously voted to include the increase in a preliminary draft of the upcoming budget.

“Salaries of the officers here are not comparable to other like-size communities,” Councilman Micah Edquist said.

The starting salary for an officer in Misenheimer is just over $25,000 annually, Police Chief Erik McGinnis said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the average officer salary in the Western-Central N.C. non-metropolitan area is just over $35,000. The average for the state is just under $41,000.

Both statistics trail the national average, which sits at about $58,000 a year.

Mayor Michael “Frizbee” Herron said he sees this discrepancy as part of the reason the village had two officers relocate in less than two years.

While salary was not the sole reason for these relocations, McGinnis did say it was a factor.

“I think the bleeding is going to continue until we give them a decent raise,” Herron said.

The village currently spends about $154,000 on officer salaries.

When combined with benefits and other expenses, roughly $259,000 was budgeted for police services in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

A 6 percent increase would add an estimated $15,000 to that total.

The village currently shares those expenses through a contract with Pfeiffer University.

“This is a shared responsibility,” Councilman Peter Edquist said.

“We need to see if they’re willing to take on some of this.”

The Council and the university will be renegotiating their contract in the upcoming months, Town Clerk Pam Humphrey said.

Under the current contract, Pfeiffer is responsible for $220,000 of police services. The village is responsible for at least $20,000.

“A lot of what [Pfeiffer] does is based on enrollment,” Humphrey said.

“Less students enrolled simply means less money to go around.”

Even if Pfeiffer does not increase its police funding, the Council said it would still entertain a salary increase.

“If we’re going to do this, we need to just set ourselves to do it, with or without Pfeiffer,” Councilman Michael Burrage said

“I think it’s a matter of where your values are and public safety is pretty important,” Micah Edquist said.

“I think this is a good time to consider this if we can figure out how to do it without increasing the budget or increasing taxes.”

If the expense proves too much in the preliminary budget, the council members can vote to remove it.

The Council will hear further developments on this issue at its next meeting, May 12.

The public hearing for the 2014-2015 budget is scheduled for June 23.

At the meeting, the village council also:

 Made a motion to consider a new set of zoning ordinances drafted by the zoning board.

 Passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of engine brakes, or jake brakes. Fines are $100 for the first offense and $200 for and following offenses.

 Approved the purchase of two village entrance signs to place along U.S. Highway 52. The signs will be 4 feet by 5 feet vinyl ovals featuring the seal of the village.

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynewspress.com.

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