Mayor, council talk police pay issues

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The City of Minden is working on ways to help alleviate pay problems within the city’s police department, Mayor Tommy Davis said during Monday’s council meeting.

Officer First Class Chris Hammontree addressed the mayor and council asking the status of proposals the department presented to the council to boost the pay.

Among the proposals were to allow alcohol sales in Minden and dedicate the sales tax to the police force, adding a public service fee onto utility bills and increase property taxes.

“We cannot dedicate that tax, we already have sales in place and it would fall under the umbrella of sales tax,” Davis said. “If (alcohol sales) were passed you would only get 1 percent and it would fall under the umbrella of sales tax and go to the general fund.”

Increasing property taxes would require a special election, Davis said, and the city would not be able to attempt to get it on a ballot before October when the new budget year begins. He said the city is looking into it, but it’s not a quick process.

Another option presented to the council during the February workshop was to implement a fee for a funeral home that wishes to have a police escort for funeral processions. Currently, the city provides the service for free, but officers said it could be an additional source of revenue for the city.

“We have talked about it, but have not taken any action on it,” Davis said.

Hammontree asked if the city planned to take any action in the future.

“It’s up to the council,” Davis replied.

The city is also looking into having the school district foot the bill for crossing guards at school crossings, Davis said, however, the city has not addressed it with the school district.

District A Councilmen Wayne Edwards said raising police pay would take time.

“If you think it is going to happen overnight or this upcoming budget, I am going to tell you, it ain’t going to happen,” he said. “Revenue is decreasing, sales taxes are decreasing. I hear your pain and I feel it – it’s a struggle, but the council is working on it.”

District D Councilmen Mike Toland agreed with Edwards and that revenue is a problem for the city.

“The city had a long spell where revenue was not increased, but expenses have gone up steadily over the last 20 years,” he said. “The revenue and population of Minden have decreased so now we are faced with a lack of revenue to do all that needs to be done.”
Begining this month, the city implemented an incentive program from the police department. Under the program, officers are paid extra if they have college degrees and certifications related to the job.

Hammontree said he loses hope the city will fix the pay issues when he is told the council is waiting until budget workshops in July to address the issues as well as the rumor that Mayor Davis wants to dissolve the police department.

Davis said the rumor was exactly that – a rumor. Davis said that he met with Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton privately and discussed a number of issues, but dissolving the police department was not one of them.

“I was just there to see what our options were,” Davis said.

Hammontree invited the mayor and council members to the department and talk with the officers to help keep a line of communication open, to help boost morale.

In other business, the council:

adopted the minutes of the March 6 meeting

condemned property owned by Donald Jefferson at 316 Pine St., which will be demolished within 45 days

appointed a curator before condemning property owned by Derrick Carr at 112 Dodge St.

appointed Bobby Baker to fill the unexpired term of Rev. Robert Whitaker, who resigned, to the Minden Planning Commission. Baker’s term will expire in
July 2020

adopted ordinance no. 1087, amending the Minden Economic Development District No. 1

adopted ordinance no. 1088, expanding the Minden Economic Development District No. 2

adopted ordinance no. 1089, extending existing sales tax to expanded Minden Economic Development District No. 2

adopted ordinance no. 1090, extending existing hotel tax to expanded Minden Economic Development District No. 2

adopted ordinance no. 1991, abandoning an alley between Sibley Road and Railroad Avenue

adopted a resolution declaring certain city property surplus, which will be sold

adopted a resolution nominating Rick Buckner as commissioner for the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District

adopted a resolution in support of the Community Development Block Grant

approved the monthly police report.

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