Alderman Conway proposes bill to increase police pay

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ST. LOUIS - City of St. Louis is trying to keep its police officers from leaving for better paying jobs elsewhere.

That's why a proposed bill to raise your taxes to help pay for their salary increases is in the works.

Bill sponsor and Alderman, Steve Conway said there's an urgency to get going with his bill.

"We are both short on police officers and what concerns us is that our pay scale will no longer be competitive after St. Louis county raises all of their officer pay across the board," said Conway.

Conway's bill has two parts.

One would implement a one-half of 1 percent payroll tax for nonprofits in the city while the other would be a half of a percent sales tax. He says one or both would have to pass a special election in November.

"Nobody wants to pay taxes," Conway continued, "but you can appreciate the fact that our non-for-profit institutions put a big burden on our public safety departments, we provide the safety and protection for their wellbeing."

The tax for non-profits would raise roughly $12 million annually, the other would bring in close to $20 million.

Board president Lewis Reed said the money is needed to increase retention rates and new hires.

"We're almost a training ground where police officers get trained and then once a position opens up in the county, they move to the county and they can make $10,000 to $15,000 more a year," Reed said.

The president of Firefighters’ Union, Local 73, St. Louis Firefighter, Demetris Alfred said that city firefighters could use a pay increase as well which would automatically happen with raising police pay.

"Currently we've had an epidemic for heroin overdoses which effects the fire department," Alfred said, "we are sending manpower out to do that and the drug that we use to help those folks, the cost has gone up and we have been using it more.

In a statement to FOX 2, newest city Alderman, Dan Guenther of Ward 9 said:

"Safety in our City and neighborhoods is the top priority of every elected official, however, raising taxes for only a pay increase does not address the full spectrum of issues, such as hiring, recruitment, community policing, youth engagement, body cameras and more. We need a comprehensive approach to safety, not piecemealing tax increases to only address single issues."

FOX 2 also reached out to some non-profit institutions such as BJC HealthCare that could be impacted but our request for comment was not immediately returned.