(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) City Council met with the St. Joseph Police Department and St. Joseph Fire Department in a work session to talk about each agencies upcoming budget plans.
On Tuesday evening, Police Chief Chris Connally and Fire Chief Mike Dalsing laid out their fiscal year 2018-2019 department budget, which is incorporated into the overall $182 million city budget.
The meeting lasted three hours, and the biggest topic on everyone's mind was pay raise.
Chief Connally said the department has had difficulties in recruiting and retaining police officers. He said many of the officers are getting recruited by surrounding areas like Kansas City and Independence because of the difference in pay.
Mayor Bill McMurray agreed with Connally, and said increasing the officer's pay would hopefully help to keep good, hard working officers in St. Joseph.
"In the mayor's office no one is, well at least not yet, is firing upon me, or you know I'm not having to enter a burning building and try and extinguish a fire," McMurray said. "These are difficult jobs and we have lost people in both of these areas because of our pay - in part. And so, we really need to increase that."
The Police Department said at the meeting that in the past five years, the department has hired 59 officers and has already lost 11 of those that were hired.
The Department said within the past year and a half, they've lost roughly 400 years of experience. Many of those have been through retirements, but Chief Dalsing said it puts the department in a shifting period.
"It's an opportunity for young people and we're looking forward to it, but it is a learning experience," Dalsing said.
Included in the Fire Department's budget plan were new hi visibility jackets - which would allow firefighters to be better seen when responding to situations on the highway or high-traffic areas, maintenance for equipment and training software, new Station 8 headquarters and new radios.
City Council voted unanimously to move forward with City Manager Bruce Woody negotiating higher salaries for both departments within the budget.
Woody said the city is planning to present the city budget for a final hearing and approval at the June 4th council meeting. The next fiscal year will start on July 1st.