MABTON - With an officer scheduled to be at a state training academy for about six months, the Mabton City Council last night agreed to pay its police reserves for a limited number of hours during that absence.
Previously, reserves were unpaid, commissioned volunteers for the police department. But with one officer out for required training, Mabton set aside funds to pay for coverage during the absence.
Mayor Mario Martinez and Police Chief Rick Gutierrez pledged to council Monday night that reserves would be compensated for no more than 68 hours per month….after they’ve first volunteered 16 hours per month.
The move approved last night will pay reserves $16 per hour starting next month. It was passed with the understanding that the reserves’ combined pay during the six-month period will be $13,856.
The stipulation was put into place because during a previous study session Councilman Mark Gourneau expressed concern that, without limits, the combined pay of police reserves during the next six months might exceed what the city would have paid had it brought on another full-time officer.
City Clerk Tanya Gaston also reminded council that under employee guidelines in place, the city will have to start paying into a retirement fund for reserves that are paid for six months continuously.
As a result, it was suggested that work schedules for reserves be staggered so that none of them is paid for six consecutive months.
The motion to pay police reserves was part of a larger ordinance setting 2014 salary rates for city employees. The salaries include an across the board 3 percent cost of living increase for city workers, with council and mayor salaries remaining unchanged.
The Mabton City Council’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m.