Jefferson and Franklin Counties consider tax increases for polic -

Jefferson and Franklin Counties consider tax increases for police

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Washington, Mo. police. Credit: KMOV Washington, Mo. police. Credit: KMOV

Smaller police departments in Jefferson and Franklin counties have always lost officers to better-paying jobs in St. Louis County but the problem has gotten worse since St. Louis County voters passed Prop P.

The starting salary for a rookie police officer in the town of Washington is $38, 850 a year but the increased funding from Prop P is pushing the starting salary at the St. Louis County Police Department to $52, 208.

Washington Police Chief Ed Menefee told News 4, "They love working here, they love the people they work with and the community. But when they can make a $20,000 pay raise, they say sorry boss but $20,000 is a lot of money."  

Washington is losing five officers in just a 2 1/2 month period. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said it lost 14 deputies to better-paying jobs over the last two years. 
Capt. Andy Sides with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said it's harder to replace officers who leave because there are fewer qualified candidates going into law enforcement. He said that impacts the number of officers they can put out on the roads and response times.

"And when it comes to manpower and guys leaving for better-paying jobs, we are really struggling to answer these calls in a timely manner and to devote the resources to investigate them," said Capt. Sides.

On Monday the Jefferson County Council gave final approval for a tax increase that would go on the April 3rd ballot. The measure calls for a property tax increase that would generate $7 million a year for raises, an increase

in staffing as well as equipment and training. The increase would cost the owner of a $150,000 home an extra $90 a year.

The Franklin County Commission has given a preliminary okay for a sales tax increase that would be decided by voters next April. The measure calls for a 1/2 cent increase that would bring in $6 million a year. The money would be divided among all police departments in the county and the sheriff's office, plus some would go toward paying for a new jail.

Chief Menefee said practically every department is feeling the pinch of losing officers to better-paying jobs.

"All the chiefs and the sheriff are in agreement, we all agree we need to do something and work together because we all are in the same problem and in the same boat," said Menefee.

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