Marion cops get big raises
Marion City Council voted Monday to raise entry-level police pay 47.1% after Chief Gideon Cody said doing so would help recruitment.
Top pay scale wages also will increase with first-year assistant chief pay rising 63.6%.
Officers will make $20 to $25.09 an hour, up from a low of $13.59 now.
After two years of experience, officers will make $21 an hour. After three years, the hourly wage will increase to $22. After four, it will increase to $23, and after 10 years, it will top out at $25.09.
The wages for assistant chief had ranged from $15.89 an hour to $29.34 an hour. It will start at $26 and reach $29.34 an hour after three years.
“We need to do something with our pay structure,” Mayor David Mayfield said. “We’re not competitive.”
Wages for Hillsboro officers start at $21 and go up to $26, city administrator Matt Stiles said. Hillsboro police are not covered by the same pension plan, to which Marion contributes 22.99% of wages compared to the standard 8.43% paid by Hillsboro.
Marion participates in the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, which provides much greater benefits than the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.
Council member Zach Collett said KPF was a “great recruiting tool” but people also “need to put food on the table.”
Young people are more interested in a higher wage than retirement, Cody said.
“I’m actively recruiting everywhere I go,” Cody, who started May 30, told the council.
Council member Ruth Herbel asked whether applicants could choose between pension systems. But she was told all police and firefighters have to stay under the same program. Herbel had thought the city might be able to pay officers who chose the standard system instead of the special police system a higher hourly rate because KPERS is less expensive for the city, she said.
Marion contributes 9.9% of an employee’s wages to KPERS and 22.99% to KPF, the city’s most recent audit said.
Cody said he could balance his budget for this year with the higher salary range and a pay grade system because the department had operated six months of this year with only two full-time officers. Next year, the department’s budget for salaries probably will need to be 6% higher, he said. He projected that salaries for the 2024 budget year would be $274,634.
Cody wants to hire two new full-time officers. He and city administrator Brogan Jones have defined a fully-staffed police department as one with five officers.
A 2019 FBI report said the rate of full-time law enforcement officers in the Midwest per 1,000 inhabitants was 2.2. Marion’s population hovers at about 2,000 people.