Higher pay proposal for Dallas police & fire falls short

The July ambush shooting of four police officers and a dart officer in July brought renewed attention to the need for higher police pay.

City council members debated on Wednesday how to give all police officers and firefighters a five percent raise.

A proposal for the five percent raise fell short of one vote. But at the end of the meeting, there was a scramble.

Council Member Scott Griggs proposed a one-time across the board four-and-half percent bonus, not the permanent raise police and fire originally wanted.

While the budget proposed by the city manager includes millions for pay raises, a third of Dallas's most experienced officers would not be eligible for the raises because they already earn the maximum amount for their rank and experience.

Since their pay was frozen during the recession, less experienced police and firefighters are earning about the same as their more experienced counterparts.

Dallas is constantly losing police and firefighters they've trained to the suburbs that pay more.

Wednesday’s proposal aimed to keep the city's most experienced police and firefighters. But the mayor criticized the plan because it would not cut taxes to the rollback rate the city manager originally proposed.

“I think everyone understands what the implication is,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “We had a chance to cut taxes, and you didn't do it.”

“It’s not a finalized process. They still have to approve the budget, and they’re still going to be working on it,” said Ron Pinkston with the Dallas Police Association. “But this gives a little guidance that we need to pay our police and fire.”

Dallas police and fire unions have been pressing the city for across the board five percent raises for senior officers, not just one time bonuses.

Grigg's proposal would be paid for by hiring fewer officers, eliminating patrol bonuses and using the higher tax rate over the proposed rollback rate.

The vote to finalize the budget will happen in just two weeks.