City Council Approves Pay Increase for Desoto Police Department and City Employees

DeSoto Salary Increase in New Year Aligned with Market Average

DESOTO – At this week’s DeSoto City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously to allow the City Manager to include funding in the fiscal year 2023 budget to implement recommended compensation changes through the classification and compensation study. This means that DeSoto will use the market average for general government employees and first-tier market data for public service employees.

At the meeting, staff presented starting salaries for the police and fire departments. Current pay rates are $63,000 for police and $61,500 for fire, as opposed to the market rate for police at $69,000 and fire at $68,000. Using the city of Plano as an example, the police department in that city is at $77,000 and the fire department at $74,000 with a third rate of pay above $73,000 for all police departments and fire.

In December last year, the city council authorized a budget to fund a classification and compensation study, which was carried out by a third-party contractor. The idea of ​​understanding the increase in turnover and the difficulty in filling some of the vacancies in the city and ensuring that DeSoto’s compensation plan is in sync with the other cities in Dallas/Fort Worth was important for the study.

According to the City of DeSoto Director of Human Resources who presented the findings at the meeting, she said this salary increase study was intended to “ensure fair wages for City of DeSoto employees.”

DeSoto City pays around 8.6% below market minimum

The main point was market research that found the city to be around 8.6% below market low, around 5.5% below market midpoint, and around 4.4% below market midpoint. below the market maximum.

Several people spoke at the meeting, including a woman who was there on behalf of her son, who said officers are finding higher salaries in other cities, stressing that pay is crucial for retaining employees who miss church and holidays and work regardless of the weather.

“Working in these conditions with low pay can cause a person to seek employment elsewhere or another profession,” she said. “The police working climate has changed and there is a national shortage of first responders. In order to replace these people or retain these people, there must be competitive compensation. »

There were also 20 comments that were read at the meeting, all in favor of a pay rise for the police department asking for an “honest level of pay” overall.

Working to be competitive to attract and retain top talent

DeSoto Mayor Rachel Proctor said, “I know the focus has been on our first responders. Although I totally agree, I want to say that all of our employees are our heroes. All of our staff, and that’s why the focus, even though the initial concerns came from the police and fire departments, we made sure that overall we were competitive in retaining and attracting the best talent in every department, whether it’s the cleaners all the way to the top spots here in the city. I want you all to know that this is not an issue the council has taken lightly.

Proctor also mentioned that there was clearly something different about this study compared to what was done last year.

Staff also suggested that a salary survey be conducted every year to look at the market to see how it is changing – “is it changing faster in some places than others”.

DeSoto City Manager Brandon Wright added, “Taking the midrange to a certain level, it’s relatively easy to figure out where you’re at. Here it was about acknowledging that we had not so big scales. That was a major downside for us on this one.

Wright said what’s important going forward is for the city to look at both the changing marketplace and how people are being paid at scale to stay competitive.

Identification of market competitors

There were 17 cities in the Dallas area considered market competitors to DeSoto’s civil service employees and each of those cities provided a minimum to maximum salary range for the 66 positions being considered. These towns included Cedar Hill, Coppell, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Flower Mound, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Keller, Lancaster, Lewisville, Midlothian, North Richland Hills, Plano, Waxahachie, Richardson, McKinney, and Irving.

Indicators used for comparison included geographic proximity and population size and it was noted that target organizations were also identified for their competition with the city for employee recruitment and retention efforts.

“The City of Plano is widely known in the area as having the best compensation,” the staff said, and “although Plano’s minimum employment requirements are different from DeSoto’s, they require all police officers to have a bachelor’s degree. “.

For non-civil servant jobs, staff presented a minimum wage of $15/hour, with 12 steps (3.5% each) in each pay scale (minimum to maximum), while also increasing the midpoint of each. classification scale of approximately 7%. This in turn reduced the time it would take an employee to grow from the low to the midpoint in six years while also adjusting a midpoint to the market average.

For public service positions, the revisions outlined were intended to move the positions to a classification pay structure like the Plano Police Department. The changes include an increase in the starting salary and fewer stages for firefighters and police.

Set midpoint

City staff considered three options for setting the midpoint of these ranges. Alternatives included the market average based on an average of the rating ranges reported by the surveyed peer communities, a top third based mid-to-high of the peer communities’ market data, and a look at the City of Plano Civil Service works.

The salary increase was recommended for fiscal year 2023 in two stages. First, the three percent COLA taking effect October 1, consistent with past practice, which was in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2023. Then, a second implementation of compensation plan changes recommended by the study, which will take effect on January 1, 2023, instead of the scheduled 2% merit increase applied to each employee’s anniversary date in previous years.

Another consideration in Desoto was the lower cost of living in the city compared to Plano.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year includes $2.6 million to implement the proposed three percent COLA and two percent merit. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 also includes $2.4 million earmarked to implement the recommendations of the classification and compensation study with a total of $5.0 million in fiscal year 2023 to increase the compensation of city civil servants.

Staff also noted that maintaining the new compensation plan in future years will be critical and will result in increased spending on an annual basis.

Police chief says pay rises a positive step

DeSoto Police Chief Joe Costa said he was pleased with the results and told his staff “Congratulations everyone. Last night, as you all know, the city council approved pay raises for all city employees. »

He said the council’s decision is a positive step.

“Even though it wasn’t the plan equal to Plano that the consultants were recommending, it’s still a very generous pay raise,” he added. “We can all be disappointed that this is not the Plano plan, but we should all be grateful that the board agreed we needed a decent raise and agreed to continue to assess so that further changes may be provided in the near future. and not four to five years.

Costa said he was encouraged by the council’s decision and concluded that police department salaries will continue to be assessed and compared to market and above in the future.

William M. Mayer