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Roanoke Rapids City Council Tuesday took steps to correct pay discrepancies within the police department.

City Manager Kelly Traynham said this morning that the city is also putting out requests for proposals for a salary and personnel study on all positions.

The action at the meeting addressed the creation of a police cadet category under the existing grade 14. The action also gave a grade 19 to the police officer category. By moving the police officer category to grade 19 it establishes a salary for that position of $39,670.46.

The adjustments also bring the master officer position to a grade of 20 with a starting pay of $41,919.94.

Council will further study proposed grade classifications for the remaining police positions as well as city-wide positions at a later date.

According to a memo contained in the meeting agenda packet from Human Resources Director Christina Caudle, the city’s salary schedule has not been consistent with the grade-step pay plan as outlined in the police department’s policies.

“When comparing the RRPD grade-step pay plan to the current police officer and police master officer pay, it appears that some employees did not receive all increases outlined in the grade-step plan,” the memo says.

Research, the memo says, shows these discrepancies occurred due to several reasons:

Employees not being able to obtain the training required for each step

Employees not being able to attend classes due to the agency working short-staffed

A direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Instruction from the previous administration to not give more than a five percent increase at any one time

“This has created compression in wages between the steps,” Caudle said in the memo, citing as an example one employee went from police officer II to master officer, skipping the police officer III step. “The city only gave a 5 percent increase instead of 7.5 percent to cover both steps.”

Additionally, the memo said, it appears that some patrol officers who have been employed by the city for two years or more are still currently paid as an entry level officer at $38,000 per year. “Again, our research indicates that this occurred for several reasons including, but not limited to, being short-staffed and challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Caudle said her department and the city manager’s office realize the changes approved Tuesday don’t address the overall need to improve the employee recruitment and retention program of the city.

“City Manager Traynham and Human Resources Director Caudle have identified opportunities to improve these programs …,” the memo said. “Based on the guidance provided by (the) council, City Manager Traynham and Human Resources Director Caudle will move forward in the development of a comprehensive employee recruitment and retention program as part of the (fiscal year) 2022-2023 budget process.”

If adopted the changes would become effective July 1.

“I think this is a good starting point that’s going to affect all employees,” Chief Bobby Martin said. “I've always been a proponent of all employees getting an increase. If not for the employees the city would not be here. Fortunately the city manager, Christina Caudle, and the city council agreed something needs to be done.”