ROCKVILLE – While the Mayor and City Council are getting closer to passing the 2015 budget, the city police and residents continue to say their voices are unheard by the elected officials.
Jan Seilhamer, a police officer and president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Rockville City Police Lodge 117, reminded the Mayor and Council she has spoken to them on numerous occasions and proved the city has the money to provide step increases for the police, who have not received a step increase since 2010. She asked the body why she continues to be ignored.
“Actions speak louder than words, and we hear you loud and clear,” Seilhamer said. “You are violating your own policies and procedures manual by refusing to pay step increases when funds are clearly available. You are destroying our already low morale. You are not even listening to your own constituents.”
Seilhamer said she has been told the city will conduct a compensation study later this year, but said she cannot put her faith behind a study when the current guide is not even being followed.“This is just another delay to avoid paying your employees,” Seilhamer said.
If steps are not re-implemented this year, Seilhamer said the police force will be 17.5 percent behind what it should be making.
According to data provided by the city’s public information officer Marylou Berg, it would cost the city $384,376.20 to provide a 6 percent pay raise to the 57 sworn officers and 36 civilian employees on the Rockville police force—the same as they received from 2006-2008. Meanwhile, according to the latest amendment to the city’s 2014 budget, the city has 19 percent reserves.
Jennifer Kaye, who said she has dedicated her life to the city, told the Mayor and Council she originally wanted to remain silent on the issue, but felt compelled to speak up because she is so frustrated and upset.
“I have been following the story of the police department and the FOP’s request to the city to have the promised stepped increases reinstated plus back-pay for all the years they were not given the steps,” Kaye said. “The lack of response to these officers and the lack of support is appalling.”
Kaye singled out Councilmembers Tom Moore and Virginia Onley and Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, saying she has supported the three of them and she wants to see them support the police.
“Go on record that you will unanimously support the FOP’s request,” Kaye said.
Kaye also asked Rockville Police Chief Terry Treschuk and City Manager Barbara Matthews to support the police.
“Your employees need to know you support the reinstatement of their step increases and their well-being,” she said.
Since making her original budget proposal, Matthews has proposed an alternative compensation package to the Mayor and Council. The new proposal would still give a 2 percent cost-of-living increase to all city employees and regular employees would be eligible to receive a lump sum payment on their employment anniversary date consistent with adopted pay plans for their position. Seilhamer said the proposal amounts to an overall 3.5 percent raise for officers, still lower than the step increases.
The Mayor and Council will have one more public hearing on the budget at their next session on Monday. They are expected to adopt the new budget on May 12.