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Lexington Council directs mayor to open up talks with police over retention issues

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The Lexington City Council has asked the mayor’s administration to meet with the police union to discuss retention issues including additional pay.

Lexington’s Division of Police is currently staffed well below its authorized strength. Council Member Richard Moloney made a motion Tuesday to open up the relatively new collective bargaining agreement with police. That did not work but Council did request a memorandum of understanding regarding the police contract. Council Member Amanda Mays Bledsoe said officers have a lot going on.

“So, I think what we are all doing is talking to people who are officers in our districts, who are frustrated, who don’t have as much time and people to do all the work that we’re all asking them to do,” said Mays Bledsoe.

Law Commissioner Susan Speckert said she would need to investigate if a Memorandum of Understanding could be used to alter base pay. Mayor Linda Gorton noted the current budget surplus could not be used as a way to increase police pay.

“In order to have recurring monies, we would either raise revenue, as the vice mayor likes to call it ‘revenue enhancement,’ or cut the budget,” said Gorton.

Richard Moloney asked if any growth in current tax streams would be enough to address the police officer shortage.

Lexington Fraternal Order of Police President Jeremy Russell sees the Council action as re-affirming that something has to be done. While admitting base pay is an issue, Russell said other benefits like longevity pay are important.

“There’s a number of things that we can look at. No, I don’t have a specific dollar amount. Again it doesn’t necessarily just have to be salary based. It can be other incentives or benefits. So, no I don’t have a dollar amount,” said Russell.

The Council has already acted to put in place $4000 retention pay supplements for public safety workers. Moloney said other police agencies in the area have already bumped up pay above what city officers earn.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.
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