Four police officers have completed the Arkansas Police Academy training and received certification but without a raise in pay as determined by Helena-West Helena Mayor Arnell Willis.
Four police officers have completed the Arkansas Police Academy training and received certification but without a raise in pay as determined by Helena-West Helena Mayor Arnell Willis. Councilman Marvin Jarrett asked why the council did not have any input in the financial matter at Tuesday night at the council's regular session. “The 2012 budget states that the city council directs that no pay increases based on merit, or reached probationary period, market adjustment or any other kind shall be granted unless by its expressed consent during this year.” Willis claimed that he was unaware of any payroll increase documentation coming across his desk and asked who the officers were. Willis referred the matter to City Clerk Sandi Ramsey regarding the four officers discussed and whether or not pay raise requests were received from the department head. Jarrett stated that the council did not have the opportunity to discuss the matter before the pay increases were denied. Willis responded saying each request is researched to find if there is an ordinance to support it. Willis added that he has not signed off on any automatic raises without discussing them with the city clerk. Councilman Jay Hollowell questioned the chain of command during the process and asked whether the department head brought the recommendation to the administrator. Jarrett said yes. “Is there something in the budget that details once an officer reaches certification that they receive a pay increase,” asked Hollowell. “In the past, once an officer reached certified status there was an automatic increase and it had to pass,” explained Jarrett. According to Ramsey, the city clerk doesn't always oversee the payroll increases. “Any payroll increase adjustment goes directly from the payroll clerk to the Mayor's Office,” she said. “The city clerk doesn't sign off on them.” “It gives the appearance that you are punishing other people, “ stated Jarrett “It's not right.” Willis reported that every pay raise adjustment recommended is reviewed but not always approved. “In the past 2 to 3 months, I have only seen one officer pay raise adjustment that came from the police chief then to the mayor,” commented Ramsey. Ramsey added that this pay raise was approved. Monica Davis questioned Willis's statement made regarding the denial of documented pay raise adjustments made for the year of 2012. “These four officers need to be taken care of,” commented Larry Brown. According to Hollowell the proper terminology dictates not necessarily a pay raise but a change in status.