Chandler's City Council unanimously approved a 5 percent pay raise Thursday night for police sergeants as part of a labor deal that guarantees they are among the highest paid in the state.
Currently, the positions are among the lowest paid in Arizona when compared to other municipalities of similar size. However, the pay hike will make Chandler sergeants the fourth highest-paid group of mid-level officers in the state behind their counterparts in Glendale, Avondale and Scottsdale.
They presently start out at $69,140 per year and top out at about $72,596, according to police officials. Under the new pay scale, they'll begin at $83,012 and max out at $87,163.
The three-year deal between the city and the Chandler Lieutenants and Sergeants Association was negotiated late last month and follows an agreement Chandler made with lower rank-and-file police officers that gave them a 9 percent pay hike.
In both cases, city leaders and police officials said the additional money is needed to keep officers from resigning to take higher paying jobs in other cities. "We felt this was a good place to start," said Sgt. Rick Griner, who was involved in the talks.
Also included in the agreement is a guarantee that sergeants in the department retain their fourth-place ranking statewide. In the past, their ranking would slip once other departments handed out raises. That's how Chandler had fallen to 11th in the state despite being Arizona's fourth largest city.
A new provision requires the city to conduct a Valleywide survey every September to determine where it ranks in terms of compensation. So, instead of giving its annual 3.1 percent cost-of-living increase, the city will do whatever is necessary to keep its police department fourth, according to the agreement. That could mean more or less than the traditional 3.1 percent bump.
Councilman Jeff Weninger said the plan "makes sense" but is somewhat risky for officers who could end up taking home a smaller raise, depending on how other cities decide to compensate their police departments.