Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Parker Slaybaugh
Lynchburg, VA - Lynchburg police, firefighters, and emergency dispatchers got a pay raise Tuesday. Starting salaries will soon be $5,000 higher. Current employees are getting a bump, as well, after going years without any pay increase.
Many say this raise is long overdue, especially for the Lynchburg Police Department. LPD has been having a hard time attracting and holding on to quality officers. Some say the pay has not been competitive. City council hopes Tuesday's vote will change that.
Council bumped public safety starting salaries from $30,000 to $35,000 with little disagreement.
"I think it's about the best we can have at this time with what we have to work with," said Lynchburg City Council Member Randy Nelson.
City Manager Kimball Payne says raising the starting salary will solve the two R's - recruitment and retention - especially with LPD. In a decade, most every officer on the force is a fresh face. 174 officers have left. The police chief says the starting salary hike is a good first step toward retaining good officers.
"If you want to work for a larger police department that offers specialized opportunities, which is us, and you want to live in Central Virginia, LPD is the place to come," said Chief Parks Snead.
But, the pay raise comes with a price tag. Council already set aside $750,000. This vote tacked on an additional $125,000. That allows a 2.5% pay raise to all public safety staff. That way, new hires won't earn more than current staff.
"It goes beyond just solving the police recruit problem; it addresses public safety in broad terms, and I think that's very good," said Lynchburg City Council Member H. Cary.
But, the additional $125,000 isn't coming from city coffers; public safety must dig deep in its pocket, keeping some spots vacant or even eliminating some positions.
Chief Snead says LPD has already considered where to find the $125,000. The first higher pay checks will go out on August 2nd.
ADDITIONAL CITY COUNCIL UPDATES:
Recycling Stays; Trash Collection Gets Second Look
Lynchburg, VA - A public-private partnership will allow Lynchburg's nine recycling centers to stay open after all. But, the trash program could see an overall.
Tuesday, council told public works to look at different options for trash collection. Ideas include trash carts and selling city trash bags at area businesses.
Currently, trash must have a city sticker to get picked up.
The new ideas follow complaints that free riders are not paying for stickers and the city's still picking up their trash.
Midtown Connector Project Starts this Summer
Lynchburg, VA - The Midtown Connector project starts this summer. Tuesday, council got an update on what's being called one of the largest infrastructure projects in the city. It will take 30 months to wrap up.
The project manager admits the work will be an inconvenience along Kemper, Langhorne and Park Avenue.
The next three months, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony and demolition.
The Midtown Connector is funded largely from state and federal money.