A wage increase was approved for the West Liberty Police Department by city council last week during the city council meeting.
The police department has three line items in its budget for personnel, Police Chief Eric Werling said at the meeting. They are wages for full-time staff, wages for part-time staff and overtime incurred.
“When I look at the line for part-time wages we’ve had a substantial amount that we were not using yearly for the last several years,” Werling said.
He asked reallocating money from the part-time personnel budget to be transferred to the full-time personnel budget. By doing this, each officer would receive a $1,000 pay increase per year and Sergeant Jack Bierman would receive a $1,500 increase per year.
“And it will not require a budget amendment,” City Manager Lee Geertz said. “Just as chief was saying these funds are already allocated in that budget even going into fiscal ’24. We’ll continue to manage it.”
Councilmember Ashley Smith asked Werling how many bilingual officers he had on staff.
Werling said none but was looking into Language Link that dispatch uses and the state has a contract with. If an officer needs a translator, they call Language Link to give them the contract number and Language Link will call back or connect the officer directly to a translator. They offer document translation and video conferencing calls.
Other city departments can use the service, Werling added. The contract is charged by a per minute basis and having this would available for city employee’s to use would be beneficial.
“Yeah, that sounds like a great idea,” Mayor Ethan Anderson said.
Councilmember Dana Dominguez said she calculated the raise would only be $83 per month.
“With taxes it’s not very much,” she added.
Werner agreed with Dominguez. He said his part-time officer budget is $12,500 a year and he hasn’t spent that much. This is why he was suggesting using some of this money for his full-time officers.
“And I’m not giving myself a raise,” he added. “This is for my officers but we’re giving them something.”
Dominguez told Werner she understood Bierman would get a higher increase because he was a sergeant. She suggested creating other incentives for the rest of the police officers such as for being bilingual or learning to speak Spanish.
Werner agreed with Dominguez. He said he has mentioned to Geertz about giving officers incentives for different certifications but said maybe they could add being bilingual to that.
West Liberty Public Liberty Director Allie Paarsmith announced the library received a $7,500 grant for a Rosetta Stone database. This is available to everyone who has a library card there.
Anderson mentioned to everyone that West Liberty Foods CEO Brandon Achen named all the languages that are spoken at the West Liberty facility. He said it would be a good idea for the city to start using the Language Link.
Werner said Language Link has access to 240 languages and doesn’t cost anything to start using it.
There was no more discussion held on this topic.
The resolution to increase the wages for full-time police officers was approved unanimously.