Pay raises approved for APD & AFD chiefs

Published: Aug. 9, 2017 at 3:02 PM AKDT
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The Anchorage Assembly approved a plan Tuesday night from the Berkowitz administration for possible pay raises for the police and fire chiefs, ranging from 35% to 37%.

"The mayor committed when he got here two years ago to try to right-size the compensation for both the commander level and the executive levels or the police and fire departments" said Mike Abbott, Anchorage city manager.

Currently, Police Chief Justin Doll and Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc make $137,009 per year. Under the proposal approved by the assembly Tuesday night, the mayor is authorized to grant Chief Doll a raise of up to 37%, increasing his annual salary to a maximum of $178,364. Chief LeBlanc could be granted a raise of up to 35%, with a maximum pay increase up to $172,723.

Abbott said the raises, which have only been authorized but not granted, are justified because the police and fire chiefs make thousands of dollars less than some of their subordinates.

"Typically, for the last several years, you've been able to make more money as a mid-level leader in the department than you were as an executive" Abbott said.

Amy Demboski, the only assembly member who voted no to the proposal, said her constituents are furious over the pay raise proposal.

"It just wasn't justified in my opinion" Demboski said."Frankly, I think it's offensive to most taxpayers. When you start looking at the amount of raises, I mean, can you think of anybody in the private sector that gets a 30-thousand dollar raise? I can't, and especially when we're facing multi-million dollar deficits, and we're handing out raises."

Demboski said the Berkowitz administration added to the pay disparity between the chiefs and their subordinates last year when the assembly approved pay raises for mid-level leaders in the police and fire departments. "We're talking $20 to $30-thousand dollar raises per person in some cases last year" Demboski said. "So, now they come back to us months later saying 'oh, now the supervisors are making less than the mid-level supervisors are'. Well, of course they are, because you gave out huge raises last year."

Abbott said even if the mayor grants the pay raises to the police and fire chiefs, it's still likely that they will make less than some of their commanders.

Abbott also said the muni surveyed similar-sized western cities and police departments to compare pay rates. "We can't find any cities of our size with police departments of our size that don't pay substantially more than the upper limit that have created would allow" Abbott said. "So, we are still below market elsewhere in the western United States."