Cape Girardeau city manager responds to funding decision the ignited outrage among some law enforcement
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – Tensions ran high in Cape Girardeau following a recent city council meeting that approved funding for the SEMO football stadium, leaving local law enforcement officers and their supporters deeply disappointed.
Bryan Blanner, Vice President of Missouri Fraternal Order of Police – Lodge 51, pointed out the significant disparities in resources faced by their members compared to similar departments and cities of comparable size.
“Our members are far, far behind any comparable departments in size in cities that are in the comparable size, and we’re still our members are also still behind smaller agencies of the area,” Blanner said.
In response to the decision, the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police – Lodge 51 took to Facebook, criticizing city leaders for prioritizing public funding for a football stadium over the public safety of their citizens.
The post also condemned the city leaders for approving a 3% raise for the city’s officers instead of the requested 9%.
This controversy arises as the Cape Girardeau Police Department grapples with recruitment and retention challenges due to substantial pay disparities.
Blanner emphasized the dedication of Cape Girardeau’s police officers and the need to find a solution that allows law enforcement to continue supporting and protecting the city’s citizens.
“This is the kind of thing that keeps us going,” he said. “This is the reason that our members at the Cape Girardeau Police Department have stayed at the Cape Girardeau Police Department and not gone to another department. It’s the support we received from our citizens.”
FOX23 News reached out to city leaders at Cape Girardeau City Hall for comment. FOX23 received a response on Thursday, June 8 from City Manager Dr. Kenneth Haskin.
“The City Council and the City Manager for the City of Cape Girardeau continues to focus on the strategic goal of Public Safety,” said Haskin in a written statement to FOX23 News. “We are conveying to you the investment the City has made in the Cape Girardeau Police Department. Our goal has been to invest such that the focus has been on pay, benefits, safety, mental wellness, and state of the art equipment for the Police Department team members. The resulting total investment dedicated to the Police Department by the City since July 1, 2021, is approximately $4 Million Dollars.”
- Hourly starting pay increased 15% ($2.86 per hour, $5,949 yearly)
- Pay plan enhancements totaled $956,092
- Increased the LAGERS Retirement Benefit collectively for all police department team members $885,269
- Added three additional Holidays, $63,383
- In 2021 and 2022 Preservation Pay was added to annual compensation, $329,636
- Certification Stipends to assist with recruitment, $240,000
- The City absorbed, thus did not pass, the 16% health insurance increase to team members, $135,543
- Six new positions have been added to the team allowing more focus on Nuisance Abatement, Evidence Collection, and Technical Support, $388,261
- Collectively the effort to provide our team members state of the art equipment is, $990,163
Haskin says the city council and the his role as city manager maintain a concerted effort to establish pay rates and benefits that are both comparable and competitive in our area resulting in a starting pay for police officers, effective July 1, 2023, of $21.40 per hour, $44,512 yearly. The total compensation package including benefits offered by the City is a total annual compensation value of $66,337 for a starting police officer. Surrounding area starting wages range from $19 per hour, $39,520 yearly to $21.19 per hour, $44,075 yearly. The city starting at $44,075 was a position requiring dual roles as police officer and firefighter.
FROM DR. K. HASKIN:
The City of Cape Girardeau is committed to competitive pay for police officers, and all of our public servants. We have made historic investments in our workforce recently. Public safety and public workers are our top priorities which you can see in our budget. Police, like other city workers, are mostly paid from the City’s General Fund and fund revenue is nearly flat, increasing less than a percent this year. An annual 9% salary increase is just not possible.
Any attempt to use casino funds for recurring expenses like salaries, would be irresponsible and considered reckless by municipal advisors. Competitive pay has to be sustainable. Salaries and benefits are annual and long-term commitments, thus we do not tie our workers’ futures to a single, volatile funding source like casino revenue. We use casino revenue for one-time projects, sometimes paid over a few, but finite, number of years.
We can’t give 9% to just one department and not the others. We are very grateful for the community support for police officers, but we also rally behind our whole team. What about the Fire Department? What about Public Works? With Police, these three departments alone represent 2 of every 3 city employees in our full-time workforce today. This city cannot afford an annual 9% wage increase for all workers in this economy – there is not enough revenue.
Demanding extraordinary annual increases at the expense of other departments would require service reductions and layoffs. To fund the FOP’s demands would require eliminating programs and cutting jobs across all departments including street, sanitation, development, recreation, and the airport. We need our maintenance teams. We need development to improve streets, and provide for safe and impactful community growth. Facilities like our Sportsplex are the primary driver of tourism that supports our local restaurants, hotels, and other businesses. We recognize the inherent complexity and risk involved in policing, but all of our public servants add value to the community.
Please see the attached. I’ve been here for approximately two budget cycles and this council has prioritized salary and benefits. It’s a record we are very proud of. But we have to be financially responsible. I wish we could pay those wages across the board but the numbers just don’t add up. In the attached, you’ll see we’ve increased starting pay for police officers 15% since 2021, and added other compensation, equipment, and positions to public safety totaling almost $4 million in addition to their existing budgets. We value our police, and it shows in our budget.
Tap the images below to view a break down of finances to the police department.