By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
Commerce’s public servants could be walking home with a little extra money in their pockets if the Commerce City Council sticks with the budget they worked on during their budget meeting on Sept. 3.
The Commerce Police and Fire departments are getting a $1,040 a year increase in pay, along with the implementation of certification pay.
For every certification an officer or firefighter gets in his or her field, an extra $25 a month will be added to their pay, up to $75.
According to Fire Chief Jack Berni, the pay will be well earned.
“You’ve got to put in a lot of effort to get certifications,” he said.
Another potential increase on the police department’s side is the switch from eight-hour to 12-hour patrol shifts, which Commerce City Manager Marc Clayton said will increase the base starting pay for a Commerce police officer from just under $28,000 to around $30,200.
The pros of moving to a 12-hour shift far outweigh the cons, Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews said.
“Each officer gets every other weekend off, it reduces overtime and it reduces the fuel and maintenance cost on the vehicles,” he said, adding that it also helps officers who live outside Commerce because they will not have to drive to and from the city as often.
The only cons Crews said were some officers may not like the change and it may take some time for others to get used to it.
The new shift is modeled much after the Lavon and McKinney Police departments, Clayton said.
“We’ve talked about it for years,” he said. “I think it’s a good time.”
The council is able to give raises because they recently received an Emergency Management Preparedness Grant to the tune of $28,800.
Another position that is often overlooked will also be getting an increase to help curb the amount of turnover.
Councilman Richard Hill asked that an increase in pay be given to the dispatcher positions.
Currently an entry level dispatcher gets paid $10.89 hourly. If the council votes to move them to a higher pay grade during the Sept. 17 meeting, dispatchers would be at $11.68 hourly, an approximately $1,600 a year increase.
“I think it’s justifiable, I really do,” Clayton said.
It was good news for the Commerce Public Library as well.
The council will give the library $8,500 earmarked for renovations to the building.
Currently the library is in need of funds for the ongoing restoration project, which Friends of the Public Library Board Member Karl Clauss updated the council on during the Aug. 20 meeting.
At the behest of both Councilwoman Sue Davis and Mayor John Ballotti, the council agreed on the amount.
“I appreciate the fact that Carolyn Trezevant has been very cordial,” Davis said.
The council will finalize the budget during the Sept. 17 meeting.