POLICE PAY in Bellaire has generated lively dialogue for a good while now.
It surfaced again at last week's village council meeting. The latest discussion centered on holiday pay for police officers. A recently enacted village ordinance altered holiday pay specifications for village employees.
As council members heard Thursday night, the ordinance created some legitimate concerns for the police department.
Police Chief Mike Kovalyk championed the cause for his force. Kovalyk said, "according to the ordinance, if you take a vacation or sick day before or after the holiday, you're not compensated for the holiday pay if you're scheduled to work," Kovalyk said. "It's quite confusing for the police department."
Officer Jim Watson shed more light on pay dilemma. He is scheduled to work the day before Thanksgiving until 7 a.m. Turkey Day. Watson is off the rest of Thanksgiving as well as the day after. As it now stands, Watson will not get holiday pay, although he will work on Thanksgiving.
We view that as unfair. A fulltime employee, such as Watson, we believe is entitled to holiday pay because he worked a holiday.
Watson said that previously, the department was paid for holidays like a 50-hour pay week. If the employee was off during the holiday, they received 40 hours of regular pay, plus 10 hours of holiday pay for the holiday. If an officer worked the holiday, they received 30 hours of straight play plus 10 hours at double time and a half. Credit was also given for the holiday, even if the officer took vacation the entire week.
The holiday pay dilemma is just the latest in series of police issues in Bellaire. First, the police department is dealing with manpower shortages, as it is stretched to the limit. Secondly, the officers are long overdue for a pay raise. Other village employees have seen their salaries hiked recently, but the police have not.
Kovalyk again asked village council last week for a solution to getting his officers a $1 an hour raise.
Despite the pay and staffing problems, the Bellaire Police Department is operating at a high and efficient level. They are professionals in every sense of the word.
Bellaire Village Council's ordinance and finance committee is meeting today. We hope it finds a workable solution to police pay inequality.