Vienna City Council votes to raise police salary
VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) - Vienna City Council voted to adopt legislation that will give the Vienna Police Department a raise. They also debated over the Jackson Park Pool Project.
The police raise is a piece of legislation aiming to improve police recruitment and retention.
Tom Azinger, the council member behind the legislation, said, “If we’re going to attract quality people, we’re going to have to pay them. And that’s the bottom line. If we want a safe city, we’re going to have to pay them.”
While the original legislation called for a $12,000 salary increase, council reached a compromise with a $6,000 increase.
“..., which would be above the state average,” Kim Williams, the council member who lead the compromise, explained.
Azinger pitched another compromise - a $10,000 salary increase but got no support.
The final vote to approve the $6,000 salary compromise was unanimous.
For more background on the why behind the legislation, click the link below.
Also at council, a motion to accept a bid on the Jackson Park Pool renovation project failed with a tie.
Multiple members voiced concerns over the project’s cost, saying the design includes beyond what is necessary.
Williams said, “Nearly $2 million dollars for a slide is a lot of money when we could put a speed slide in similar to what Parkersburg has.”
Council Member Chris Mancuso referenced research he did, comparing the cost of Parkersburg’s pool project to Vienna’s.
He said Parkersburg is paying $135 per square foot for a new facility while Vienna is paying $241 per square foot for their pool project.
“I cannot vote to support paying $6.8 million for this project,” Mancuso said.
Council Member Melissa Elam pushed for the approval, emphasizing the timeline officials have to open the pool next summer.
“For every complaint that any of you have received about the cost, I expect you to get ten times the complaints that the city is not moving forward with the pool project,” she said.
Elam also emphasized that the design has already been decided on.
Council member Jim Leach, Elam, and Mayor Rapp voted to approve the bid.
Mancuso, Williams, and Azinger voted against the bid.
Also at council, members tabled legislation that would make it so new police hires would be on a different pension plan.
The legislation is an effort to take a more holistic approach to police recruitment and retention.
It was tabled in response to a Vienna police officer who is also on the pension board requesting that members discuss the plan with the pension board.
“There’s been one hypothetical after comments to our financial advisor - just an open conversation because we want to understand what this means. What does this mean for the future? And we had questions and they had some answers that is this the right time?” he said at public forum.
Council Member Jim Leach clarified that he went over it with the police chief, adding that he was open to discussion with the pension board.
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