Sherman PD asks for salary increase at no budget increase

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
The Sherman Police Department is proposing a 4.5 percent pay increase as a part of the upcoming budget. This would be achieved by redirecting funds away from overtime pay and into the department's general pay fund.

As the city begins its budget planning for the new fiscal year, the Sherman Police Department has asked for an effective 4.5 percent increase in pay for officers at no additional cost to Sherman taxpayers.

Sherman Police Chief Zachary Flores proposed the increase last week as a part of the Sherman City Council’s annual budget retreat. Flores said he hopes to achieve this by having the department take a more active role in managing overtime hours.

“So what we did was take our overtime allocation for each division ... and then we started giving weekly reports to our supervisors so that they can make staffing decisions on the lowest level possible,” Flores said Tuesday.

The proposed pay increase comes in a year in which the department has budgeted $530,000 for overtime pay. In 2018 and 2019, the department spent $441,000 and $402,000 on overtime pay, respectively.

However, the department has seen a drastic decrease in overtime spending in the current fiscal year. Since October, the department has only utilized $152,000 of its overtime budget, with only thee months of the year remaining.

“Some departments see it as a philosophy,” Flores said. “Some departments use it (overtime) as a tool that allows them to pay officers more, but we don’t. We just look at it as something that is a business necessity that we use when we have to.”

This was achieved by giving supervisors reports on overtime usage in their divisions. These reports included details on how much overtime each employee used.

“They just didn’t know what they didn’t know,” Flores said. “Now they have that information and can make staffing decisions quickly.”

In some cases, this involved using officers who typically are not called on for overtime duty instead of those who are regularly used.

“We don’t expect overtime to be nothing,” he said. “We just expect our officers to take care of it and be responsible and prudent when making staffing decisions.”

We don’t think that overtime is an entitlement. It is something that has to be done at times, and in those times we will. Otherwise, we are going to be efficient with the money we have.“

As a part of the increase in base pay, Flores said the department plans to reallocate $300,000 from the overtime fund to its general salary fund. With two scheduled increases, this would equate to a 4.5 percent increase to pay for officers.

The topic of pay and compensation for officers has been a recurring one in North Texas as departments with higher budgets have been able to increase pay and attract officers from smaller departments.

“A trend you tend to see in law enforcement locally is higher salaries,” Flores said. “So instead of the city having to look in other areas to provide higher salaries, we’ve already done that.”

Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.