The St. Louis Police Board has voted for a pay raise for officers. Under the arcane laws that regulate the department, the matter will now be considered by the Missouri General Assembly in Jefferson City. City taxpayers, though, will be given the bill from state legislators.
Here’s what I will tell legislators: Our officers do a tough job and they deserve a raise. Officers who work the streets deserve a larger raise than their bosses.
But I will also tell legislators that finding the money to fund raises for any police officers will take some work.
One solution I would support involves somehow reducing the unfunded liability of the public employees’ pension systems. If the unfunded liability were reduced enough (and doing it would not be simple), the City would be able to reduce its payments - currently $27 million a year, up from $7 million a year in 2001 - and use the savings for raises. That would leave the systems intact, but allow decent pay raises for all employees.
One solution I would oppose is cutting the number of neighborhood patrol officers to fund raises for everyone else.