Milton Council lifts police hiring moratoriumOfficials may increase starting salary of recruits
Milton — The Milton Police Department is set to hire at least one new officer after town council lifted a moratorium on hiring.
Officials placed a freeze on hiring in July in order to give the ad hoc police committee time to discuss staffing needs and officer retention strategies. Committee members determined increasing the town's starting salary could convince recruits to stay longer in Milton. Council did not make a decision on salary increases at its Aug. 5 meeting and will discuss the topic further at its Thursday, Aug. 15 meeting.
The committee has recommended a new officer make $15.31 per hour when hired. Then, as incentive to perform well in the police academy, the wage for academy graduates would increase to between $17.31 and $18.03 per hour. In a 40-hour work week, that would equate to an annual salary between $36,000 and $37,500.
"It's boiling down to the pay,” said Vice Mayor John Booros, who has a nonvoting role on the committee. “They've left for a higher dollar amount. I think we're one of the lowest starting salaries in the area, if not the lowest, and they stay here a year and a half to two years then leave us. We just lost a couple of good officers.”
Milton's police force dropped from 10 officers to seven in July after three officers left for neighboring departments. A fourth officer is on leave for at least another month, dropping the current staff down to six officers.
Mayor Marion Jones said she spoke to an official at the police academy in Dover, who said if 10 recruits are ready to go in October, they would be willing to run a small class. Police Chief William Phillips said training takes three to six months to complete, and recruits are required to stay with the department for two years from their hire date.
Jones asked council to lift the moratorium in order to get the hiring process moving.
“With a moratorium in place until the end of September, it would be nearly impossible to begin a hiring process and have it accomplished and get a recruit into the academy,” she said.
When asked how many officers the town may hire, Jones said, the current draft of the fiscal year 2014 budget accounts for nine officers' salary and benefits.
Booros said the town's take-home car policy is also a benefit. The committee estimates the car is a $2.50 per hour perk, or more $5,000 per year, he said.
“They may not see the $2.50 per hour built into it, but it's a perk to get a new officer here in this town versus another town,” he said. “Even though our starting salary might be a little bit lower, there is a take home car.”
Council may choose to vote on the issue at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 15. The town's overall budget is also on the agenda for the meeting. The police ad hoc committee is set to meet again Monday, Aug. 19.