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Cape Girardeau Police Officers Association opposing extension of road tax

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Cape Girardeau Police Officers Association opposes extending the city's sales tax for roads because officers feel that promises about pay haven't been kept, the president of the association, Bill Bohnert, said Thursday.

The association began running ads Sunday in the Southeast Missourian with a simple message against the tax extension on the Aug. 3 ballot. The ad does not give a reason for the opposition.

The ads are running now in part to influence the city budget, which is being written now for the year that will begin July 1, Bohnert said. But the bigger message, he said, is that officers feel they have not received the pay increases promised when a tax to support fire and police operations was approved in 2004 and they do not trust city promises now.

"We have been told over the years every time we go out and help them pass a tax that it is going to free up money to give us a pay raise, and that never happens," Bohnert said. "The officers feel slighted."

The ad campaign began with little advance warning to city leaders. City manager Scott Meyer said he was alerted to the first ad last Friday by police chief Carl Kinnison. If the tax is defeated, Meyer said, it will put pressure on city general fund revenue that has been struggling to keep up with inflation in recent years.

"I would be dishonest to say I wasn't a little disappointed," Meyer said. "We had been out and tried to explain the situation we are in to employees. We had begun to articulate what a comprehensive, sustainable compensation plan would be and had begun that work."

The tax on the Aug. 3 ballot is known as the Transportation Trust Fund, or TTF. First approved in 1995, the half-cent sales tax has been extended twice, the last time in 2005 with 82 percent of voters approving it.

The tax would raise about $21 million over five years. About $13 million is dedicated to specific road projects, such as widening Bloomfield Road, also known as County Road 205, and rebuilding West End Boulevard south of Highway 74. The remainder pays for street repairs and asphalt overlays, and it includes a contingency fund to cover extra costs.

The officers association was ready to oppose the sales tax for parks and storm-water projects in April 2008 but was convinced to hold back by then-city manager Doug Leslie and then-Mayor Jay Knudtson, Bohnert said.

As city revenue growth stalled because of the recession in 2008, Leslie canceled raises for most city employees. Instead, workers were given a $600 lump-sum payment that was not included in their base pay.

At the same time, Leslie was approving a pay increase for officers at the rank of sergeant and below of 1 percent on Jan. 1, 2009, with another 1 percent raise on July 1, 2009. In addition, officers were given a step increase on the pay scale, which resulted in about a 2 percent pay increase.

On the officers' side, the issue is whether they are being paid what they were promised in 2004, Bohnert said. Officers were told the public safety tax would provide them with pay equal to 97 percent of officers in comparable cities.

"We are still 12 to 26 percent under what comparables get, and this is what we have been fighting for for six years," Bohnert said.

But for Meyer, the issue is whether the city can even afford its current payroll. The total cost of pay and benefits has increase 29.2 percent in six years, he said, led by a 46.67 percent increase in the cost of benefits such as pensions and health insurance.

In the same period, he said, inflation has been 14.3 percent, while city revenue has grown slowly or not at all. If general fund sales tax receipts had kept up with inflation, he said, the city would receive $9.3 million annually from that tax. Instead, revenue this year will be about $8.75 million.

"Our current approach to compensation is not sustainable," Meyer said.

The answer will be to eliminate jobs if possible and look for any other opportunity to keep costs down, he said.

The city is working on a sustainable compensation plan but that will take about a year, Meyer said.

While he said the city will not be pressured, Meyer said he doesn't want officers to feel they are being disregarded.

"I certainly respect the hard work and public service of our men in blue and they do put their lives on the line, and I don't want anybody to think they are not appreciated," he said.

Mayor Harry Rediger echoed those sentiments but wonders if officers have thought about their stance thoroughly.

"I don't know where it is coming from, but it was a surprise to me that they would oppose that issue since they are really a part of our entire city staff team," Rediger said.



Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!

-- Posted by thewonder on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 2:39 AM

I will side with the Cape Girardeau Police Association and VOTE NO to extend this taz.

"Mayor Harry Rediger echoed those sentiments but wonders if officers have thought about their stance thoroughly".

Seems to me they have been thinking about it since 2008 when they were thinking about

opposing the now ridiculous storm water/parks

tax! I sure wish they had. Just more same old same old from a very old Mayor. I think the Association has a very valid gripe.

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 5:20 AM

So after six years of not living up to promises, the best they've got is 'give us another year?' 'Oh and by the way that will let us pass another five year tax, so talk to us again in five years...' Has anyone investigated how the 'comparable cities' can afford to pay their officers 12 to 26% more? What's the difference between their budgets and ours?

-- Posted by Professor_Bubba on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 6:40 AM

Roll Call! How many of the officers can even vote on the issue? Lots of them have chosen to live outside the city they serve.

-- Posted by Yankee Station on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 6:47 AM

I agree with Yankeestation. The VAST majority of those guys don't even live here. Stick to what you know and can impact. You're fighting a fight that you don't have a dog in.

-- Posted by bbqman on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 7:56 AM

What and where are the compariable cities that are mentioned in this article? Larger cities allow their Police and Fire Fighters to live outside of the city limits, however they are required to have a 5-10 minute response back to the station and work in a Emergency situation. What is the requirement with Cape?

-- Posted by billsheppard52@gmail.com on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 8:10 AM

Well, the city has found enough $$ to pay lifeguards and staff for the brand new, government run water park.

-- Posted by redhawk81 on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 8:38 AM

Everyone should see the behavior of the Cape Police Officers Association for exactly what it is. It is pure self serving blackmail perpetrated to gain a financial advantage over other hard working city employees. In 2008 all city employees were told they would not be receiving raises and all departments understood that fact based upon the economic downturn. Except one, Police. They choose to blackmail the city regarding the Parks Tax and due to Knudtson's agenda associated with that tax, won an underhanded pay raise. A raise that in fact slapped all other city employees directly in the face. This latest effort is nothing more than them trying to do again what they did in 2008. And, it appears it's not going to work with the new administration.

-- Posted by KDrury61 on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 9:13 AM

Yankee & muff, this is a little different than the waterpark or school bond issues. This is a sales tax, meaning that everyone who shops in Cap pays regardless of where they live. Sorry to say that even those who live in the the Glorious Community of Jackson or in the county still shop in Cape & pay the tax. I don't see any problem with officers who don't live within the city limits. Maybe they want to own a few acres or not have neighbors 30 feet away. I can't blame them.

-- Posted by Just__Me on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 9:25 AM

I saw this headline and thought GREAT, finally government employees OPPOSING a tax increase because we are overtaxed as it is. Then I read their reasoning and I'm back to being disheartened.

When is the last time you can recall a government employee union opposed to higher taxes unless their reasoning was that it's not high enough?

-- Posted by yy4me on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 9:35 AM

Vote NO on TTF4 Please it is a waste of money and streets that need to be fixed are not apart of TTF4 or any other TTF aka Transportation Trust Fund! Southside is all the city cares about the north side has potholes and holes in the redstar bridge and also cracks and the city won't even fix it!

-- Posted by capeguy30 on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 9:51 AM

More proof of empty promise's from the city gov.

"Just give us more of your money and we will fix it. We promise this time."

-- Posted by Airborne 95B on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 9:52 AM

How much administrative time is wasted collecting a half-cent tax here and a quarter-cent tax there? It's time to throw out the current piece-meal tax system and replace it with a simplified sales and property tax that is comparable with cities that can afford to pay public servants a decent wage. This will give the government the flexibility to spend the money where it's needed, not just where it's appropriated.

Since public servants (police et. all) should have the city's best interest at heart, they should all be required to live within the city limits. This will provide extra motivation that they do their job well, since as residents they will reap the benefits of their labor.

-- Posted by qzerp on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 10:26 AM

How many businesses have gone under in this economy? And they are griping about promises not kept about raises? I can't stand the sense of entitlement I get from these jerks.

-- Posted by Jones on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 10:39 AM

Considering what a bang up job the Cape cops do in selectively applying the law and selectively doing their jobs, of course they deserve a raise. BTW that's sarcasm. Talking w/ a good many people, I think the Cape cops do a poor job at best. A lazier force would be hard to find. If it involves paperwork, and it can be avoided, rest assured they'll avoid it. And in Cape, why not just make the sales tax 100% and be done w/ it? Seems like every time a new sales tax increase comes up on the ballot, the brainless voters seem to forget there were 3 sales tax increases they voted for before it.

-- Posted by heye1967 on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 10:58 AM

Look around! The military MIGHT get a 1.9% pay raise in 2011. Times are tough for everyone.

-- Posted by Yankee Station on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 11:33 AM

"Just give us more of your money and we will fix it. We promise this time." Posted by Airborne 95B

You speak the truth there buddy. Typical political jargon.

-- Posted by crackpot on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 11:33 AM

The fact that several officers live outside the city has nothing to do with the tax issue. The fact is that the CPOA is not supporting the tax and are voicing their stance.

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 2:25 PM

This has nothing to do with where they live, how well someone might think they are doing their job or even the fact that they are public servants.

They were promised one think and got something less. Who of you would work for less than what you were promised?

-- Posted by Airborne 95B on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 3:19 PM

All of the city employees were promised to be at a certain percentage, not just the law enforcement. Lucky for the law enforcement they got a raise last year when none of the other employees did. This year, they don't get what they want again so they feel the need to stir the pot again. The cops are not the only ones not being paid sufficiently compared to the "market". Why do they deserve it and none of the other city workers do?

-- Posted by go_city on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 3:29 PM

I dislike politcians and cops! They're both untrustworthy!

-- Posted by libertyforall on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 4:28 PM

Those responsible for the ad and the statements are lying, pure and simple. The Police got exactly what they were promised in 2004 and more than they deserved. There was money taken from the non Police and given to them to appease their whining then. In 2008 they were given raises because of their whining again when the non-Police were given nothing for raises. On top of that they are now whining again, when the rest of the country is loosing their jobs or doing everything they can just to hang on to what they have.

If that is not proof that they are only concerned about their bank account and not the community that provides that salary or their fellow employees. My advice and hope is that if they don't like what they are making where they are at then please leave. But whatever you do SHUT UP AND STOP YOUR WHINING. Especially stop lying and misleading the public just to get your way.

-- Posted by Pause on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 6:39 PM

It's time for the Missourian to publish the salaries of city employees. All raises for the last 7 years should be published so the public can see how tax dollars are used for salaries.

How many years has it been now since the Missourian has done it's job?

-- Posted by thewonder on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 5:30 AM

Heard a vicious rumor that Scott Meyers has already recieved a $8000.00 bonus for all the work that he has done. Anyone know if that is true? If it is then this may be more of an issue than anyone thinks.

-- Posted by cartman on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 7:47 AM

Wages every where no matter what occupation has stagnated for the past ten years and it does get worse as each year goes by. The working middle class people have more going out then coming in, but utilties, phone, water, sewer, food, health insurance, local, state and federal taxes continue to climb at a rapid pace sooner or later nothing is left in the net take home pay of a working mans check. The middle class working man is taking care of the rich and the poor we are being pulled from both ends. I don't blame the Police Officers they are fighting for what they think is right, just like the fire department has done for years. The police are on the front lines day and night combating the "thugs" that prowl our streets. By the way Cape Police Officers salaries are behind in salaries compared to other departments there size and they have been for years.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 8:03 AM

The solution for the officers who want to be paid like those other departments is to get a job with them and quit their job in Cape. Trying to blackmail the City by running an ad against the Transportation Tax is not a solution and is extremely childish as well. How can the citizens have any confidence in a Police department with this type of mentality? I know I sure don't.

-- Posted by Pause on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 9:03 AM

"Why do they deserve it and none of the other city workers do?

-- Posted by go_city on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 3:29 PM"

Because they catch bad guys and clerks with parks & rec don't.

-- Posted by Just__Me on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 9:05 AM

Since when does "catching bad guys" qualify anyone for being compensated better for doing their job more so than anyone else doing their job. It's no surprise to a police officer that they have to deal with the bad guys. They go in with their eyes wide open and agree to do the job at the current pay rate when they are hired. Anybody with any sense at all should realize if you work for an entity that relies on taxes you're only going to get a raise if the money is available. Cops are no more special or essential than anyone else. I'll say it again and again, if they don't like what they are getting paid for what chose to do for a living, then get out and go work somewhere else.

-- Posted by Pause on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 9:59 AM

I agree that the tax should be dropped, not extended. The Gov't thinks they are the only ones having a tough time making dollars do the job, not a word about the people (tax payers) whom they take money from. Let them do without like everybody else when the situation is tough, not put more taxes on us poor suckers!

-- Posted by JulPud on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 1:13 PM

We could go for a generation without doctors, and it would get ugly if you were sick or injured, but civilization would continue. We could go for a generation without engineers and mechanics, and things would break down, but civilization would survive. We could even go for a generation without teachers. The next generation would have to play "catch up" and it would be hard, but civilization as we know it would still survive.

If, however, we went "but a single generation" without the warriors who are willing to confront human aggression every day, then within the span of that generation we would truly be doomed. -Lt. Col. Grossman

-- Posted by Citizenwhoknows on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 4:19 PM


Ok now it has gone too far. Obviously the warriors referred to are those brave and selfless individuals of the military. Police officers are in no way, shape or form equivalent to our military heros. In fact when it comes to things like pay, they are exactly the opposite. I've never once seen a public display by anyone in the military complaining about what they are getting paid and willing to blackmail or publically call out the very organization they work for. It is offensive to me to compare a civilian police force to a professional military. Get real.

-- Posted by (..) on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 8:16 PM

Everyone is also overlooking the fact that the police get to drive thier squad cars home every night if they live within 12 miles of home. that is another huge benefit the rest the city employees don't get. plus it cost the city gas.

-- Posted by roxie on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 9:44 PM

Officers also make several thousand dollars each in overtime every year in addition to their salaries that they conveniently never mention.

-- Posted by Pause on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 11:13 PM

Whining??? It's called not being truthful, which is what the city has done w/ the CPOA. What you don't understand "()" is that police officers do leave for other jobs with better pay all the time, commercial or other agencies. And if your police department is not competitive in salary, then you don't get experienced lateral officers to come in and fill their vacant spots. So you then have to hire people fresh out of the academy with no experience. Every time you lose and experienced officer and hire an academy graduate, you lose tons of experience and training that take years to make up. Just think if you lose multiple officers, then your department falls way behind the curve.

Believe it or not, a police officer's job isn't learned in days, weeks, or months like other city jobs. You have to be proficient in numerous arenas to include criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, arrest and control techniques, firearms, emergency vehicle operation, departmental policies, use of force policies, and tons of other things. It takes years to develop a competent well rounded officer. You ask them to make split second life and death decisions and not violate anyone's civil rights, and expect them to get paid like a . . . Parks and Rec employee, a street sweeper, a "sanitation engineer" . . . Their jobs aren't even close in training or technical requirements, so don't ask them to get paid like they are.

Several thousand in overtime??? please, maybe the whole department. And most of that is funded by grants from the state and federal government.

The CPOA only wants to be compensated like other surrounding agencies in the tri-state area with similar size, and for 30+ years they haven't.

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Sun, May 23, 2010, at 3:31 PM

How about this idea . . . you go tell the families of the two West Memphis police officers killed last week, that they don't deserve a pay raise either!!!

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Sun, May 23, 2010, at 3:42 PM

First, I would tell the families in West Memphis that no amount of money can bring them back or prevent them from getting killed. This is a know risk when a person decides on this for a profession.

Second, it's the individuals in the CPOA who are lying about the pay issue. The Police were given what they were promised and then some.

Third, this is not about what an officer is getting paid versus other City employees. I have seen no references indicating anyone believes they should be paid the same as other employees. The issue is how you are going about it. Publically Oppossing a tax that has nothing to do with your salary is nothing more than a childish tempertantrum. You should be profession at all times whether you agree or disagree.

Fourth, the turn over issue will happen no matter what the pay or the City an officer works for. Someone always will pay more and someone will always pay less. Papers around the country have story after story of Police officers wanting more pay and comparing themselves to other cities. If you are in a lower paying deparent now and get raised to a higher paying department, it will only be a matter of time before it goes down again. It's a never ending cycle that has nothing to do with what the City of Cape does.

-- Posted by Pause on Sun, May 23, 2010, at 5:46 PM

You need to get more creative in finding ways to make your department the best place to work other than salary. That's just the way it is now. It is more work and more difficult to do but it can be done. Whining about raises is old school and antiquated thinking. Try thinking outside the box on ways to make your department one that others want to work for even at the given salary.

-- Posted by Pause on Sun, May 23, 2010, at 6:24 PM

It's obvious you've never worked for a police department!!!

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Mon, May 24, 2010, at 9:25 AM

If you pay the police the same as city positions with less qualifications on their job descriptions, then don't complain about the cops since you get what you pay for. Yes, they know what they are getting in to when they go in to this profession, but they also know the position should be paid higher than many other positions in the city. Like it or not, that's the world of business.

-- Posted by SEMO72a on Mon, May 24, 2010, at 2:20 PM

Bond 007. You have obviously worked for one too much.

SEMO72a. Look back at one of my earlier posts. I said that no one is suggesting police be paid the same as any other position. The issue is that the CPOA is lying about not being paid what they were promised and that they publically oppose a tax that has nothing to do with their pay just because their demands weren't given in to. All the rest of these false arguments are just feable attempts to divert attention from the fact that the CPOA is throwing a childish tantrum cause they aren't getting bigger raises. Yes I said bigger raises since they are getting raises this year, which is another point they don't won't to promote.

-- Posted by Pause on Mon, May 24, 2010, at 7:52 PM

I support the police and their reasons why. Anyone who puts their life on the line for others deserves a decent pay raise. They have bills too.

I just wonder if any of you would be willing to do their job for the money they make. I doubt it.

By the way 1% isn't much of a pay raise.

-- Posted by Spinning on Mon, May 24, 2010, at 8:29 PM

When does 1% qualify as a raise??????? One percent of not much, is still not much!!!

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Mon, May 24, 2010, at 9:39 PM

Judging from the selfish attiude and unprofessional behavior it's more than what is deserved.

-- Posted by Pause on Mon, May 24, 2010, at 10:47 PM

Selfish and unprofessional???? What's unprofessional about not supporting a city tax?? You should see what some departments do for contract negotiation. I saw a billboard in one city that their POA put up as you enter the city that read, "Warning!! Entering a high crime area, due to the city council not caring about the safety of the city and supporting it's officers". I would love for Cape to do something like that!!!

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Tue, May 25, 2010, at 3:54 AM

Bond 007,

I'll debate this topic with you -- issue for issue and line by line. Selfish and unprofessional is a very accurate description of what the CPOA is doing. Coming out against the tax would be fine if it was based upon belief and principles without selfish influence. But answer this question please. Had the city given the Police a raise, like they did the last time they threatened to oppose a tax, would they still oppose this tax? No! It's pure blackmail, nothing more. And please, don't act like it's anything else.

You can spout about officer turnover and comparable cities, but your argument falls short. Employees, in any source of employment, do not leave their jobs, relocate to different cities, uproot children, for a salary increase of 3 to even 5 percent. Don't believe whoever is telling you that. People leave to fulfill career goals, leave a bad / poorly managed department or for a position of higher "status" such as the MSHP, ISP, US Marshals.

Please completely answer the question I posed to you in the first paragraph. Then answer which City departments were "promised" raises from the Public Safety tax. And then answer who made this promise and where this meeting took place. You want to get to the meat of this issue and defend them on it? Let's go!

-- Posted by KDrury61 on Tue, May 25, 2010, at 8:51 AM

So just because another department in another City is childish , selfish and unprofessional you think the CPOA should be also. Nice . . . Now I feel a lot better. Once again if that's the kind of department they want to work in then they need to get a job with them and leave Cape. I think the real Police Officers of Cape wouldn't support that kind of action.

-- Posted by Pause on Tue, May 25, 2010, at 8:08 PM

Yes unprofessional is when the city doesn't make Public Safety its number one priority!!!! Again . . . you wouldn't know about police professionalism since you don't work in a police department. And that city I spoke of got the support from their citizens and forced the city to come to their senses and negotiate a substantial raise for their beloved officers. In numerous states now there is collective bargaining w/ police officers and their cities.

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Tue, May 25, 2010, at 11:39 PM

Selfish???? What you call selfish, is what everyone else calls looking out for your livelyhood. I feel sorry for the officers who have stuck around with Cape PD after all the years of being underpaid. BOTTOMLINE . . . All they want is to be paid like other officers in departments of similar size in the state and region. Call Bill Bohnert and talk to him, there is a CPOA phone number to leave a message and I'm sure he'd be glad to tell you the CPOA's side.

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Tue, May 25, 2010, at 11:50 PM

Well if you haven't figured out that the CPOA is not the number one priority yet then I'll let you in on a secret. They are not and never will be.

I'm sure Mr. Bohnert would be more than capable of telling their side, but what he and the other CPOA supporters should do is stop talking and start listening for once to those who are in touch with reality.

-- Posted by Pause on Wed, May 26, 2010, at 8:24 PM

Bond 007,

If you feel sorry for the Officers who made CGPD their career, that's fine. However, regardless of their career choices and actions it isn't justification under any circumstances to blackmail the city for a pay raise. Especially when pay raises have been locked for all city employees. Again, it's blackmail -- pure and simple. I asked you to answer the questions I posted and you failed to do so. Speaks loudly.

You imply we don't know anything about police professionalism. You have no idea. We could be one of the many Officers who opposed the CPOA's actions. Maybe we're the ones who wrote the letter to City Hall denouncing the COPA's behavior. And don't even hint that they are united on this issue / action. Far from it! I do however know this type of behavior would result in being terminated immediately in any facet of private industry. Tell me again about "police professionalism" and then answer the question I first asked of you days ago. Would they still be opposing the tax if the city had given them the underhanded raise?

You speaks about collective bargaining, but had that been in effect they would not have been able to blackmail the city months ago for the raise while threatening to oppose the park tax. They would have been bound by contract. Also, name one thing the CPOA has done to help bring collective bargaining to Missouri. Nothing!!

The individual you urge people to call, while shifting attention away from yourself and your inability to answer questions, is useless. He's at the end of his career, done all he can do and in my opinion doesn't have the best interest of his membership in mind. He has nothing to lose, acted according and unfortunately many Officers apparently don't see that.

-- Posted by KDrury61 on Sat, May 29, 2010, at 10:22 PM

I must say that neither side has convinced me. On the one hand, enough is enough with taxes. Now a penny saved from taxes is a penny I can use....And I'm not sure sacrifices made by all during this time isn't what we all need. Cuts in spending by government, less pork, etc. Not a matter of 'if I don't get a raise, you shouldn't either' but more of 'lets use the money available wisely.'

On the keepiing the tax going......prove we need it.

-- Posted by LiveAnotherDay on Mon, Jul 12, 2010, at 10:29 PM

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