Posted: 12/30/2020 15:57:53 PM
The New Ipswich Select Board voted 2-1 to dramatically increase police salaries within the proposed budget for the coming year.
The board has been discussing police salaries for several weeks, after Police Chief Tim Carpenter discussed with the board the department’s long-standing problem with retaining officers. He told the board that New Ipswich is a “training ground” where officers often start, stay a few years, and then move on to better pay or other areas.
On Tuesday, the board of directors made a final decision on police salaries, voting 2-1, with opposition from Selectman David Lage, to increase the police salary to $ 434,606.
That number is $ 28,588 more than what was originally proposed for police salaries this year – $ 406,000 – which represents a possible salary increase of 3% for all officers based on merit.
One of the issues that was a sticking point for Lage was a proposal to increase the police chief’s salary to $ 95,000 per year.
Selectman John Veeser said the increase was based on a 2019 salary survey for New Hampshire chiefs of police, which shows an average salary of $ 98,432 for a chief of police. Lage, however, said not all towns pay as much and New Ipswich is a small town and the pay will not match comparable populations.
Veeser argued that New Ipswich’s placement as a Massachusetts border town should come into play.
“I would say this point, because we’re on the border,” Veeser said. He said some issues, such as drugs, “spilled over” from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. “I think we need to think about that and what we’re doing,” Veeser said.
Veeser also proposed to increase the police administrator’s salary to $ 40,000 per year, which is the state average. Lage questioned whether the administrator position should be factored in with the salary increases for officers, rather than the 3% annual cost-of-living increase that other city employees are factored into. . Residents will vote on the entire budget on March 9 at the polls.
Veeser said that for the majority of salaries, Carpenter would have the final say on salary increases based on experience and rank, but the increase would allow officers to move closer to state averages.
In the end, Veeser and Selectman Shawn Talbot voted to increase the police pay line to $ 434,606, with Lage voting against it.
If passed, the wage increase could have a bigger impact on the 2022 budget, as two vacancies are currently calculated to pay nine months of wages, as the city completes the hiring process.
Voters are due to hear a full account of the proposed budget on Jan. 19 during the city’s budget hearing. Voters can vote to finalize the budget, or propose amendments to it, during the city’s deliberative session, scheduled for February 2 at 6 p.m., with a snow date February 6 at 10 a.m.
Residents must vote on the final budget at the March municipal assembly at the polls on March 9.
Articles of the petition mandate must be submitted to city offices by January 8, along with the signatures of 25 registered city voters.