City Council Update from Councilman Mark Verret – Increase Millage & Police Pay

The following is an update from Covington City Councilman Mark Verret, District E

There will be 2 council meetings held in July.

Due to an examination and vote concerning the millage rates, we will have 2 meetings in July. I am not in favor of increasing property taxes and I will be voting so accordingly. For our Covington City Council website and additional information, click here.

Our regularly scheduled City Council meeting will be held on July 7th at 6pm. Due to an extensive Agenda, including a discussion and vote on St. Peter’s gate proposals, the Council is looking to increase capacity and will more than likely hold it’s meeting at Bogue Falaya Hall located behind City Hall. This would increase seating capacity as the meeting is expected to be well attended. Please monitor the city’s website for additional information as it becomes available.

At our City Council meeting, I will be introducing a proposed Ordinance to increase and supplement both police and fire department employees pay for those that obtain additional educational training over and above that which is required today. As you know, I have long advocated for an increase in pay to attract, recruit, maintain and retain our public safety personnel. The proposed Ordinance is as follows:

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF COVINGTON
PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO THOSE FULL-TIME POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE OBTAINED AND COMPLETED ADDITIONAL UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE PROGRAMS AT ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS

WHEREAS, it has been determined that the City of Covington and the public at large gain and benefit from the additional education and training provided through accredited undergraduate and graduate programs, and
WHEREAS, the Covington City Council has determined that the City of Covington will provide additional financial assistance to its full-time police and fire department employees; and
WHEREAS, the accreditation compliance will be limited to nationally recognized institutions of higher educational learning and approved by each department head and incorporated into their respective policies and procedures; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council of the City of Covington, at its regular session convened, that they authorize the City of Covington to provide supplemental pay to those full-time police and fire department employees who have completed undergraduate and graduate degree programs at schools properly accredited in compliance with this Act, with school records serving as the basis for determining payments, per HOURS COMPLETED and include ADDITIONAL YEARLY COMPENSATION.  

I will introduce the proposed Ordinance at the July 7th meeting and it will be discussed and voted on during the August 4th meeting.

While it may not be required, having post-secondary education allows our force to better adapt to proposed community initiatives, including public outreach and crime/fire prevention. Many officers throughout the country and in many Louisiana municipalities receive an education bonus just for having an education beyond the required high school diploma or GED. For example, according to a study published on the FBI’s website, only about 1 percent of all police departments require a college degree. However, almost half of all respondents reported that they had either taken classes or earned a bachelor’s degree. Public safety is trending towards additional education beyond that of a high school diploma and the City of Covington needs to join in that direction. Improving and advancing their career field is an added benefit and we should do all we can to further this goal. As stated in multiple articles on increased pay for additional educational training, there is a greater value on educated officers and employees because of the changing nature of police and fire departments. The ability to adapt to new developments and critically solve problems in the rapidly-changing police and fire professions is of paramount importance.

And as stated earlier, the City Council will hold an additional meeting on July 21st at 5:30pm, in the Council Chambers at 222 East Kirkland St., to discuss and vote on the millage proposals.

Mark W. Verret
Covington City Council
District E