Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

LCPD Patrol Officers to Sergeants Get $9,500 Raise –  Now Have Parity With Sheriff’s Office – $45k Starting Salary 

LCPD Police Officers wait for City-Union meeting to begin
Police Officers waiting for the City - Union meeting to begin.

LAKE CITY, FL – Last Wednesday afternoon, in a meeting lasting a little over three minutes, Lake City Police Department Patrol Officers to Sergeants received a $9,500 raise, bringing them up to parity with the Sheriff's Office. The starting pay for a Patrol Officer, retroactive to October, is now $45,000.

Every member of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the bargaining unit, receives the raise.

Compression, the great bugaboo of salary raises, was taken care of over the past two years. Pay compression happens when differences in compensation among employees don't reflect their experience, skills, or responsibilities.

LCPD Chief Gerald Butler
LCPD Police Chief Gerald Butler received high praise from the union.

Pay compression is particularly problematic when new hires can earn more than existing experienced employee or their supervisors.

LCPD Chief Gerald Butler worked out the compression over the past two years, so this year, when the raise goes into effect for everyone from sergeant on down, the compression is already factored in for everyone in the bargaining unit.

Lieutenants and above make their own deals. This year, those folks received what all City employees received – 3%.

The November 8 Meeting

Attorney Eric Holshouser
City Labor Attorney Eric Holshouser

The meeting kicked off 15 minutes late as the City Attorney, Erick Holshouser, and FOP Representative JJ Dixon got stuck in traffic coming from Jacksonville.

Mr. Holshouser began, “I think this should be easy. We had reopened the contract for the purpose of what I saw was a very large raise, somewhere between almost 17% - almost 28% on the pay scale. We are proposing that in conjunction with a new three-year contract. Also included is Juneteenth, which is a holiday. I don't know if there is anything to discuss about this. It seems to me that the proposal was very generous and would normally be accepted since there is no obligation on the part of the City to reopen the contract in the first place. That's what we are here to say and to document, I guess.”

Mr. Holshouser asked FOP representative Ms. Dixon if she had any problems with the contract.

JJ Dixon
FOP Representative JJ Dixon

She didn’t.

Mr. Holshouser said, “What I am proposing here is the union take it back for ratification -- a new three-year agreement, and then Dee [Johnson – interim city manager] can take it before the City Council for the Council to ratify.

Mr. Holshouser added, “I'm not sure or do I have any clue where the money comes from. But that's been put on the table and accepted. So there we are.”

Ms. Dixon said the meeting could have been done on a conference call.

There was talk about the date of the next City Council meeting – December 4 – and the meeting between the City and the union ended in just over 3 minutes.

Post Meeting With Interim City Manager Dee Johnson and Police Officer Greg Burnsed, LCPD bargaining unit representative

Interim City Manger Dee Johnson
Interim City Manager Dee Johnson listens to the abbreviated proceeding.

Your reporter asked Mr. Johnson where the money was coming from to fund the increase. He explained the raise was taken care of in this year’s budget and, without the budget in front of him, said the cost was about $300,000.

Your reporter told Officer Burnsed that he thought the raise should have been more.

Indeed lists average PO salaries in Florida with less than one year of experience at $48,218.

Greg Burnsed
Bargaining Unit representative Officer Gerg Bernsed.

Officer Burnsed told your reporter, “The contract was approved. We’re still below the state; you have to look at it this way, too. When Chief Butler took over [2 years ago], we had 14 open positions, and he had no applications to even look at. Now we're full. We have no open positions, so that's good. And he's got 16 to 18 applications on his desk. That man's done great things for us.”


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