Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 includes a $5,000, across-the-board raise for all sworn Mobile Police Department officers, as well as a one-time bonus for Mobile firefighters.
The raise, which is a highlight of the $249 million general fund budget, will put the pay for the MPD’s 485 officers in line with the state’s other large cities, Stimpson said, at a time when they felt it will be necessary for recruitment.Over the last 18 months, Chief James Barber said the department has lost about 100 officers, or the equivalent of a precinct per year. At the same time, Barber said recruitment has been more difficult. For example, of 183 officers who’d applied for slots in the MPD’s last academy, 114 changed their mind when invited, Barber said.
For firefighters, Stimpson is proposing $1 million in incentive pay to be split among firefighters, at the discretion of Mobile Fire-Rescue leadership. Acting Fire Chief Billy Pappas said the department has lost 69 of 442 firefighters since January.
Stimpson said this bump would help make firefighters’ salaries more competitive. He said paramedics received a pay adjustment in 2007 that made them regionally competitive, while firefighters’ “salaries remain on the low end of the comparative spectrum.”
The budget proposal does not include raises for any other city employees, but Stimpson pointed out that workers have seen a total of 7.5 percent in raises since he took office.
Stimpson’s proposed budget also allocates $435,000 for MoveMobile, a job-training and activity-based initiative for children and teenagers up to 19 years old. MoveMobile is a “comprehensive, public-private community framework,” which focuses on a “youth jobs initiative, community mapping of youth services and financial assistance, such as free tax preparation,” a statement on the program read.
The proposed capital improvement budget is $59 million, with $23 million going toward the district-based capital improvement plan. The capital budget is said to prioritize streets, bridges, sidewalks, ditches and parks. Another $12.9 million will also move into the convention center budget.
“The first three years of this administration have been built upon conservative, fiscal stewardship,” Stimpson said. “As a city, we continue to strive for excellence. I am presenting a budget that emulates our mission of making Mobile the safest, most business and family friendly city in America by 2020.”
In all, the city will spend $320 million, during the 2017 fiscal year. Executive Director of Finance Paul Wesch said revenue projections are roughly 1.5 percent greater than last year.
“It’s still positive (growth), but not as positive as it has been the previous two years,” he said.
However, Wesch said the city is projected to see savings in next year’s budget that could make up for the dip in growth as well.