Council approves comp and OT pay for police

Published 8:46 am Monday, April 22, 2019

AHOSKIE – While Town Manager Kerry McDuffie set as one of his primary goals for the current fiscal year the pay-off of the USDA loan of $221,000 still owed on the town’s purchase of a 2011 fire truck, it now seems a portion of those funds are finding a higher calling.

Already acknowledged is that part of those funds are earmarked for the two percent pay raise town employees will receive beginning with their current paychecks; and now another portion of what would’ve gone to eradicate the loan has been approved to assist the Ahoskie Police Department.

Several APD officers are currently away from their loved ones and their duties as local public servants in order to serve on active duty in the military. This necessitated rearranging the department’s duty roster, thus creating a need for compensatory time and overtime for their brother officers who are deployed.

“I want to hold off on paying that (fire truck) off this budget year and use that money for (a couple of) things,” McDuffie told the Town Council at their April 9 meeting. “I’m looking to pay out the comp time to our police officers for their duty, and budget $15,000 of money to pay overtime to our police officers between now and June 30; and then budget $15,000 in next year’s budget to pay overtime to police officers between July 1 and Oct. 30.”

McDuffie said this will allow Ahoskie police officers more time on the street and give them greater visibility.

“Comp time is comp time,” he added. “And on the home front, it can put you in a little bit of a difficult situation.”

He also said while there are presently two vacancies within the Police Department that they are working to fill those positions.

“But the time frame it takes to hire an officer and get them in here is about four or five months,” McDuffie stated. “What with all you have to do with background checks, the drug test, firearm training, psychological check, field training, and all that.”

Councilwoman Jamie Burns asked how far along McDuffie and Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh were in the hiring process and the Town Manager answered they are currently vetting one candidate.

“I didn’t want to come in here and propose paying out comp time to employees until I ran it by the Board for your acceptance and got your thoughts on the process,” he remarked. “But, that’s our request that $23,000 be budgeted out to pay comp time that’s been built up; and $15,000 for overtime between now and the end of the (fiscal) year, with $15,000 to be budgeted for next year’s budget to be used between July 1 and Oct. 31.”

McDuffie said this would cover the period until the deployed officers on current active military duty return once again to full-time work within the police department.

“I think we need to move forward on this,” said Councilman Matt Bradley, with a nod of agreement from both Mayor Jimmie Rowe and from Burns.

The request was tied to approval that would later be given to the $15,000 for the two percent pay raise, which has already been budgeted for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The salary boost will cover the final two-and-a-half months of the current fiscal year’s budget with more appropriation forthcoming to cover the raise when Council considers the town’s 2019-20 budget.

Reynolds then made a motion to approve the budget amendment, seconded by Burns, and it was approved unanimously.