Belen Police Department gets 15% pay raise

BELEN — Every employee in the city of Belen will get a 3% raise starting next fiscal year, which begins July 1, but police officers will get a bit more — a 15% raise.

Belen City Council unanimously approved the spending last week in a bid to retain officers currently working for the BPD but also recruit others.

At the council meeting last week, Roseann Peralta, the city’s chief financial officer, presented the council with three pay raise options — 8, 11 and 15 percent — for police officers.

“We had the budget workshop on April 29…and we discussed a lot of things. The only issue that remained unresolved was increases (in salary) for the police department. I think there was a 3% agreement across the board for all employees.

City manager Andrew Salas presented the three different options, saying there had been discussions at the workshop about wage increases, but council had no consensus.

“We’d love to hear your idea of ​​what would be appropriate for police department pay raises,” Salas said.

The city’s finance department gave the council a breakdown of the proposed increases, with the 8% costing ratepayers an additional $56,773 a year; 11% increase with an increase of $101,869 per year; and the 15% would increase the annual payout by $161,997.

While the entire city workforce will receive this 3% increase, three individual command staff firefighters will also receive a larger increase using volunteer firefighter funds.

“We talked about it at the budget hearing to use some of that funding to offset the problem we had in the pay scales,” Belen Fire Chief Nick Moya said. “We have just presented the problems themselves and not a solution.

“Just to clarify for council and the mayor, this was not a general fund increase; it was really about getting everyone in line with surrounding agencies and making the pay scale fair and equitable for all employees,” Moya said. “The problem was that the lieutenants earned more than some officers under the sous-chef, which is why we wanted to correct the scale.”

Councilman Frank Ortega said from what he recalls from the workshop that the pay increase for the police department was 10% and 2.5% for the next two years.

“In our mind it was a discussion and no decision was made,” Salas said. “That’s why we’re here tonight, and if that’s the sense of the board, we’ll run with it.”

Ortega said that because future revenues from gross receipts taxes are unknown, he was concerned about forecasting the future and didn’t want to have to lay off employees like the city did more than a decade ago. year.

“Roseann has done a really good job with the budget, making sure we have that 1/12 of the budget in reserve, which we’re supposed to have in case of an emergency,” Ortega said. “I want to make sure our other employees know we appreciate them too. That’s how we have to give them that 3% at all levels.

Councilor Steve Holdman said he did not believe the council had reached consensus on increasing police service pay at the workshop, saying the main aim was to increase their pay from to other services.

“Honestly, I don’t recall any 10% police and 2 1/2 (for the next two years) deal,” Holdman said. “There was a lot of talk, and it was everywhere.

“As I mentioned before, the State Police got a 19% raise this year, Santa Fe just approved a 16% raise,” he said. “Our police department, even with a lesser raise, we’re at Los Lunas (rate of pay) before they even give their raise for the new fiscal year.”

Holdman said he believes that if the city wants to make a change and stop being a city that trains officers for other departments, it needs to give BPD officers a 15% raise.

Ortega said that while he doesn’t disagree with Holdman, the town of Belen doesn’t have the same tax base as Santa Fe or Los Lunas.

Councilman Danny Bernal Jr. said he agreed 100% with Holdman, saying the city of Belen should retain police officers.

“My main concern is our reserves and how much money we have to put in the bank in case of bad weather,” Bernal said.

Peralta reminded council that the city is required to hold a reserve of at least 1/12% of city spending. The city also has its own financial policy that was adopted years ago, Peralta said, which requires a minimum cash reserve of 15% and a maximum of 25%.

She said if the council approved the 15% increase, the city would abide by its policy of maintaining the 15% minimum.

Councilor Yvette Padilla said that while she was not against the 15% increase in police officers, she recalled the council reaching a consensus of 10% this year, with a 2.5% increase for the next two years.

Mayor Robert Noblin said if council decided to do the 10% with increases for the next two years, he couldn’t burden the next council with that vote.

After council discussion, Bernal introduced a motion to approve a 15% raise for Belen police officers, approval of raises for firefighters, and a 3% raise for all other city employees. Holdman seconded the motion and the increases were approved unanimously.

William M. Mayer