Police officers in League City say they don’t agree with a recent salary study that found their pay was competitive with that of other cities.
The League City Police Association crunched the numbers and instead found its pay average, and the group has called the city’s commissioned salary study misleading.
Salaries for most League City government employees are competitive within surrounding cities, but compensation for some jobs lags behind the market, New York-based Segal Waters Consulting said.
The study found police salaries are 107 percent of the market, making those the most competitive of League City’s jobs.
The minimum pay for an entry-level cadet is $42,671 a year, according to city documents. A police officer with 10 years on the job makes $69,027 a year, while one with 19 to 20 years on the job makes $76,837. The top pay a sergeant with 19 to 20 years amounts to $91,352. Captains with 11 or more years on the job can make $121,364, the top pay on the scale.
The study recommends that pay-raise promotion steps for police officers be cut, which the association agrees with, police association representative Cory Beyer said
“We really need to focus on maximum pay,” he said. “Our maximum pay is too low and it takes us too long to top out,” he said.
In other Texas cities, police are able to reach the highest pay in nine to 10 years, both Beyer and the authors of the study said.
Police officers in Baytown, for example, can make as much as $160,000 more than League City officers over the span of a career, Beyer said.
“A five-year officer here looks at Baytown where he can make more,” Beyer said.
Cutting the promotion steps would give police officers an incentive to stay, he said.
City Manager John Baumgartner has proposed cutting two steps for police promotion, allowing police officers to reach the highest salary in 12 years.
The study compared League City to Allen, Baytown, Bryan City, Dickinson, Friendswood, Galveston, Lewisville, Longview, Missouri City, Pearland, Richardson, Round Rock, Sugar Land, Texas City, Tyler and Webster.
One reason League City police pay appeared competitive was because it was compared to smaller cities such as Dickinson, Beyer said.
The city council in April hired New York-based Segal Waters Consulting for $100,000 to determine whether city employees were paid enough or too much. Segal Waters also looked at job descriptions and recommended a few changes.
Making those below-market jobs competitive would cost the city about $924,000, the study found.
Although the city’s pay structure is mostly competitive, some classifications fell below the market and some were above it, according to the study.
The fire marshal position minimum salary is at 77 percent of the Houston-area market average, the lowest in the study.
The study also looked at 50 job classifications and reviewed what jobs included supervisory duties and whether certain positions are exempt from overtime status.
Segal Waters chose 66 jobs to statistically represent all jobs, Ruth Ann Eledge, vice president and senior consultant, said.
The 66 jobs chosen represent 25 departments and all levels, from entry level to manager level. This sample represented 69 percent of the employees and 33 percent of the job titles, Eledge said.
Of those 66 jobs, 27 are below market and 12 are above market, she said.
“In general, the city’s pay policies and practices are similar to peer employers,” Eledge said.
Segal Waters looked at entry level, midpoint and maximum pay for the jobs in the sample.
The study also factored in data from the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin areas, Councilman Nick Long said. League City employee salaries could be lagging behind those markets, Long said.
“We are beating most of the cities in the Houston area,” Long said. “You could make the case it’s much cheaper to live here.”
Segal Waters will come back to the city council to show the aggregate of the Houston area only.
The city council would have to vote to approve pay increases for those jobs below market. That would mean fixing inequities in the future to balance out those salaries that, at present, are above market, Long said.