CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Salt Lake City workers could be getting a pay raise

Jun 23, 2021, 7:37 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 12:11 pm
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Salt Lake City Police Department arrested 44-year-old Anthony Jack for his alleged involvement in several crimes, including multiple burglaries. FILE: KSL TV

SALT LAKE CITY – Police, firefighters and other city employees in Salt Lake City might be getting a pay raise. The Salt Lake City Council approved a measure that sets aside millions of dollars to negotiate salaries for hundreds of people.

City officials have three different unions they work with. They include Salt Lake Police Association, Salt Lake City Fire Fighters IAFF and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). 

Overall, those unions have more than 1,800 members. Negotiations are still ongoing with two of them.

No specific details were released of a potential pay raise for Salt Lake City employees.

However, during a special work session, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall told the City Council the Police Department is dealing with 70 pending vacancies. A shortage of police officers across Utah is making it difficult to recruit new ones.

District 1 Rep. James Rogers told council members they shouldn’t be looking to create new departments in city government while dealing with this issue.

 “We have a council that is moving forward with a new department when we shouldn’t be, in my opinion, when we should be looking at, first and foremost, public safety,” Rogers said.

In the end, the council decided to take $9 million of the City’s Fund Balance, which is the rainy-day fund, and set it aside so it could be potentially used during their negotiations. 

District 3 Rep. Chris Wharton said the Police Department had a much higher turnover rate in 2020, and that it wasn’t just due to violent protests and calls for defunding police departments.

“Salt Lake City was falling behind in compensating officers compared to other cities in Utah and other comparable cities in the region,” Wharton said. “Salt Lake City asked officers to do more than any other police department in the state.”

Wharton reported they still want to create a system that offers less funding for policing and more funding for other forms of crisis interventions. But, he said, they’re just not ready for that, yet.

“We don’t have a system in place where we can just not send police and send something else.  We have to build that system while we’re moving forward,” he said.

The city will finalize its agreements with these unions in the coming months.

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