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Tucson City employees will see bigger paychecks soon

Council approves $30 million investment
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 5:21 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson City employees will soon see bigger paychecks after the city council approved a 30 million dollar investment in its workforce on Tuesday. The police department will receive an extra 6 million dollars and the fire department will see a four-million-dollar increase this next fiscal year.

The City of Tucson looked at pay in other Arizona cities to find a market rate. Wages at the police department were compared to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Oro Valley and Phoenix Police Department. The city council found 81 percent of city employees were being paid below surrounding cities.

“Outside police departments come and poach our officers in the City of Tucson and the investments we do in academies and training our officers is lost,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.

The Tucson Police Officers Association said the wage increase is a major step in the right direction.

We were underpaid and overworked. Now that we’ve rectified the pay issue and can attract more officers, preferably lateral officers. It will spread the work,” said Officer Mike Gamez, the vice president of the Tucson Police Officers Association.

The Tucson Police Protective League Vice President, Nate Foster, said more competitive pay will help retain officers, but said pay only goes so far.

“Those people that left weren’t leaving for more money,” he said. “They were leaving for a change in environment and where they felt more supported by the politicians of that jurisdiction and the command staff.”

The city council discussed how it will keep up with the pay increases and rising cost of living.

“Am I going to absolutely guarantee you that we won’t have challenges going forward. I can’t do that. But I can tell you we have a plan that gives us buffer for at least 2.5 years,” said Michael Ortega, the Tucson City Manager.

He said this buffer gives time to make adjustments and better plan ahead. The city council hopes to start implementing the pay raises by early June.

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