City Considers Police Hiring Bonuses Amid Rising Tax Revenue | News
Members of the councilor-led finance committee have agreed to consider hiring bonuses for police recruits as vacancies exceed the hiring pool.
The deal comes in light of news that the city is experiencing record growth of “20% from January 2021 to January 2022,” the city’s director of financial services, Anthony Francisco, said Thursday. Sales tax revenue growth projections in previous years have hovered between 3% and 4%.
According to the agenda package, at least eight positions within the NDP are open, including four for police officers, one for a parking service officer, two for dispatch and two for animal welfare.
City Manager Darrel Pyle said the police department received many applications, but “only five made it to class.”
Mayor Breea Clark said the lack of quality candidates is a national trend and mentioned hiring bonuses as an option to attract good candidates. Oklahoma City is currently offering its police officers $5,500 signing bonuses.
“Especially since our general fund is in good shape,” she said, “have we thought about hiring bonuses?”
Pyle said the “one-time” money is a good way to entice and said the city is also considering advertising out-of-state vacancies, as are other departments. On a trip to California, Pyle said he heard a former Oklahoma City officer who became Fresno’s police chief during a radio commercial promoting “why you should consider a career in security public”.
He suggested the city could run ads in both local markets and select out-of-state markets “to reach out and let people know where we are.”
Tax revenues soar, prompting talk of hiring bonuses
The discussion of police recruiting tools — specifically hiring bonuses — comes in light of a sales tax trend that Francisco said he hasn’t seen in nearly two decades. .
The city’s growth is higher than others in the state, the tax report said. A sales tax report that compares the percentage change in sales tax collection for cities since February 2021 shows Norman’s collections have fallen from 22.23% from February last year to 23.61% since the beginning of the year.
Oklahoma City collections showed a change of 19.15%, compared to 23.14% in February 2021. Moore went from 27.48% to 18.87%. Edmond’s went from a change of 16.67% in February 2021 to its year-to-date total of 9.31%.
“On a monthly basis, we compare our percentage growth year over year,” Francisco said. “We compare the same statistic to about seven cities in Oklahoma, the largest cities. We’ve had a lot of talk over the past two years about being the slowest. We are the fastest in the last 10 or 11 months.
With the general fund flourishing, the committee considered one-time spending rather than boosting ongoing programs. The exact reasons for the rise in sales collections were not known, but Francisco had not foreseen it as a permanent trend.
Consumer spending fueled by previous federal stimulus packages such as the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act has likely been depleted in the economy, Francisco speculated. Construction in Norman continues, which affects the collection of sales taxes.
“We’re enjoying the ride, but again, we don’t know how long it’s going to be,” he warned.
Other open positions in the city are being filled elsewhere, the committee heard.
City grants officer Lisa Krieg said the Norman Housing Authority has hired a housing navigator. Three employees have resigned from the city’s homeless program, The Transcript previously reported.
Several other positions such as a city auditor, positions in the city’s homeless program, fire, maintenance and utilities are on hold pending approval from Pyle, Francisco and council, the council says. report.