Westminster police officers will get a salary increase each year over the next three years, after the City Council approved a new three-year-agreement for sworn and civilian Police Department employees.
Police officers will get a 3 percent salary increase effective August 2017, followed by a 3.5 percent increase in 2018 and a 3 percent increase in 2019. The department is budgeted for 86 police officers, although only 75 of those positions are currently filled.
Civilian employees will get a $3,000 cash allowance this year, followed by a 3.5 percent salary increase in 2018 and again in 2019. There are 35 civilian positions in the department, 33 which are filled.
The salary increase comes after voters approved a one-cent sales tax increase in November that city officials say will generate up to $14 million in annual revenue. The tax increase ballot measure was advertised by proponents as a move to prevent a looming bankruptcy and maintain essential city services, including public safety.
The Westminster Police Officers Association spent at least $52,242 in 2016 in support of the sales tax increase, according to a Jan. 2017 campaign finance disclosure.
Human Resources director Mike Harary says Westminster police officers are the lowest paid in Orange County, based on a survey he conducted of the highest possible monthly base salary for police officers in agencies countywide. Officers are generally eligible for a higher salary based on their education, special assignments and skills, such as being able to speak a language other than English.
The highest monthly base salary for officers in Westminster is $6,947, compared to a median of $7,917 a month, according to Harary’s survey.
The highest paid police officers in his survey were from Costa Mesa ($9,101 a month), Irvine ($8,814), Seal Beach ($8,769), Anaheim ($8,313) and Cypress ($8,247).
Officers last received a raise in 2014, when they were given a six percent increase, although their pension contribution was also increased by six percent.
Harary said the department has lost eight police officers to other departments over the past two years: three police officers to Seal Beach, three to Irvine, one to Garden Grove and one to Anaheim.
City council members Sept. 13 approved the salary increases unanimously and without discussion.
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