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Lisbon police salaries will increase as promised

LISBON — Revenue has stabilized to where village council feels comfortable granting police pay raises promised in exchange for voters approving an increase in the municipal income tax last November.

Council this week passed on third and final reading a revised payroll ordinance that includes substantial pay raises for police department employees and 3 percent increases for other village workers.

The raises, which take effect Aug. 9, were promised in exchange for voters agreeing in the November 2019 election to increase the village income tax from 1.5 percent to 2 percent starting in 2020.

The increase was expected to generate an estimated $383,000, with 75 percent of that ($287,000) earmarked for the police department. But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and council decided in April to delay approving the pay raise legislation until it determined what impact the pandemic was having on village finances.

Village Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner reported at the June 23 meeting that spending in the village was down $100,000 from last year, with the general fund accounting for $67,000 of the reduction. The police department has the largest budget of general fund departments.

Meanwhile, income tax collections were running about $30,000 behind last year, even with the increase. That was expected to turn around because of the extended July 15 filing deadline and the discovery that 15 employers in town had yet to begin deducting the extra 0.5 percent from their workers’ paychecks.

“I think we can financially support the payroll ordinance and I told them (council) that,” Wonner said.

The increases to the police department are expected to cost an extra $100,000 a year and an additional $8,000 for the remaining village employees.

Mayor Peter Wilson supported council’s decision to go ahead with the pay raises at this time, seeing it as a promise kept with voters.

“We promised voters we would do this … The payroll ordinance fulfills that promise,” Wilson said following the meeting. “I think our financial situation is good, considering the (pandemic).”

Following are the hourly raises for the police officers and dispatchers:

Lieutenant: $18.86 to $25

Sergeant: $18.17 to $22.50

Patrolman: $17.11 to $20

Part-time patrolman: $13.20 to $15

Dispatcher: $12.63 to $14

Part-time dispatcher: $10.03 to $12

Police Chief Mike Abraham’s salary will go from $54,527 to $58,240.

Abraham lobbied for the significant wage increases, saying they were needed to slow the loss of officers and dispatchers to departments that offer better pay. He expects this to represent the first of two increases for his staff.

Mayor Wilson said he would like to spend some of the other earmarked additional police funding to purchase body cameras for officers.

“It’s not only for their protection but I think this has become essential in the police world,” he said of the body cameras.

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