Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Lake Charles – a city in short supply of employees competing for better pay elsewhere. That’s why the administration formulated a plan to provide increased pay to attract and retain employees.
Wednesday night, the city council debated for over an hour with a crowded chamber full of representatives from the Lake Charles Police Officers Association. It was a unanimous decision to provide a 3 percent pay raise across the board to all employees and also include an adjustment to the pay plan which brings minimum wage from $10 an hour to $10.75 an hour. Some departments pressed for more.
“One of the main areas and problems that we have in attracting and retaining employees is with our police department,” Councilman Mark Eckard said. “I want to amend this budget proposal or this pay raise to reflect that and stimulate that the police department get a 6 percent across-the-board pay raise.”
“Our average department is about 15 to 17 percent vacancy rate right now,” Mayor Nic Hunter said.
The Administration says there is currently a 17 percent vacancy in the water department, 9 percent in the fire department, and 15 percent in the police department with 32 positions to fill. Some calling that a threat to public safety.
“If in 2019, I had a crystal ball and I could show you that COVID was coming and that the hurricanes were coming, and the floods were coming, and the storms were coming – would you have made changes then to better prepare the city?” LCPD recruiter Larry Moss asked. “Of course you would. Well I don’t have a crystal ball about storms, don’t know anything about COVID, I know a lot about recruiting and there is a storm coming.”
Councilman Eckard says nearly 600 bullet casings were recovered from crime scenes last year. This year, more than 400 have been recovered. He calls Lake Charles a ‘war zone’ and believes the police department needs increased pay to assist in their recruiting.
The City Administration is meeting with the police union to discuss their pay in more detail prior to the February 2022 council meeting.
Written by Jennifer Lott