Though previous dialogue via one-on-one conversations and emails between Police Chief David McDavid and the Zachary City Council have transpired on the topic of a salary increase, McDavid formally asked for a pay raise at the Aug. 11 meeting.
McDavid, who maintains a $4.4 million budget and 63-person department, including reserve officers, said his salary of $74,755 is less than what some area police chiefs make in comparably sized cities with smaller budgets and departments.
According to McDavid, for example, the Gonzales chief makes $103,667, while maintaining a $3.5 million budget and 45-person department.
McDavid’s job responsibilities, in addition to those of chief, include collecting taxes from businesses, marshaling the city court, collecting garnishments and seizing assets.
“I understand if you were to agree to the raise, it wouldn’t be adjusted until 2019, but if an issue arises before then that must be decided by a vote of the people, if you would consider allowing me to piggyback on top of that issue, I’d be grateful,” said McDavid, a 31-year veteran of the ZPD. “I can’t ask citizens to incur the cost of an election just so I can be given a raise.”
According to the Home Rule Charter, the annual salary of the police chief shall be set by ordinance at the time of election and shall become the effective compensation benchmark. McDavid is in the first year of his second term, which ends in 2018.
Also, no ordinance changing the salary or granting any other monetary compensation can be adopted during the last year of a term of office, and no such ordinance can become effective during the term of the council adopting the ordinance provided.
Councilmen Ben Cavin and Brandon Noel, who both agreed the 22-year-old Home Rule Charter law was antiquated and unfair, said they felt McDavid was likely due a raise and they appreciated his willingness to wait until 2019 if it came to that.
“I agree that it needs to change, but I think there needs to be a starting and ending point with longtime appointed, elected and civil service employee salaries, including mine,” said Amrhein. “I hope we can come up with a pay scale and put a cap on this because it could get out of whack.”
Noel said research needed to be done on the topic such as how to structure the raises, when elected officials would max out, how the pay increases would be made, as well as how Councilmembers’ earnings stack up against other municipalities.
After more discussion on the topic, a workshop was planned but no date was set.
Also at the meeting, Council members said attorneys for the proposed Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on Church Street near the entrance to Live Oak Trace subdivision have postponed an Aug. 25 ruling on the site until the City Council meeting on Oct. 13, when they hope to hear back on an ethics ruling.
Some have questioned whether it would be a conflict of interest if Councilman Francis Nezianya voted on the proposed site since he owns several Subway franchises, one of which is located inside the Zachary Wal-Mart Supercenter on Main Street.