Underpaid? Silverton dealing with attrition in police force

February 2023 Posted in Business

By James Day

Are Silverton Police Department officers being paid enough?

Developer and long-time resident Rob Wood, who serves on the public policy committee at the Oregon Police Academy in Salem, doesn’t think so.

Wood read off the names of ten Silverton officers who have left the force in the past five years to take positions with other agencies. He cited one example in which an officer made a horizontal move and received an $8,000 bonus as well as a $20,000 raise.

Wood was speaking at the Feb. 6 Silverton City Council meeting. On the meeting’s “consent agenda,” a set of items meant to be handled in one motion and with little or no discussion, was action on a new three-year contract agreement with the union representing Silverton’s officers.

The new deal calls for officers to receive 6 percent raises effective July 1, 2023 and a 5 percent raises the following year.

“I think we need to go back and look at this,” Wood said. “We have a great team of people. Let’s try to keep them.”

Wood said that by offering higher salaries to retain officers the city would save money in the long run because of the expense of hiring and training their replacements.

The matter is a sensitive one because the pending agreement was reached in collective bargaining between the city and the police union. The council moved to table the consent agenda item and will schedule an executive session, likely in March, to consider its options. .

Earlier in the meeting the Silverton Police Department was recognized by the Oregon Accreditation Alliance. The group’s executive director, Oregon Accreditation Alliance, appeared via Zoom to honor the department. Accreditation requires that departments establish and maintain strict standards and professional best practices, accountability and transparency.

In other highlights from the Feb. 6 session:

The unfinished fence at the rear of property on South Third Street.   James Day

The unfinished fence at the rear of property on South Third St.    James Day

Fencing: Councilors unanimously agreed to direct City Manager Ron Chandler to work on a “fence encroachment” agreement with a property owner on South Third Street. The goal is to find the correct property line for the homeowner so he can install a fence at the rear of the property, which abuts unimproved South Fourth Street.

Parking: Councilors unanimously approved an update of the city’s parking and right-of-way ordinances. The goal is to have clearer code on where parking is legal and where and for how long recreational vehicles can park. The work has been ongoing since last summer and was spearheaded by former Councilor Jim Sears and Silverton Police Chief Jim Anglemier.

At a Jan. 23 work session the new council discussed goal-setting for the new term. On the list are:

• Adopting and executing a capital improvement plan;

• Completing and occupying the new civic center;

• Implementing a new parks master plan;

•  Updating the economic opportunity analysis and the development code;

• Striving for community-wide connectivity of roads and sidewalks, with particular emphasis on Water Street and the Mill Town area;

• Addressing housing needs; and,

• Designing a “main street” project in the downtown core using urban renewal funds.

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