Facing staff retention issues in nearly every department, City of Tucson leaders believe a new raise for employees will help keep good workers in place.
The new Tucson budget, adopted this week, includes a 2.5% raise for city employees who have been on the job for at least 18 months.
City Manager Michael Ortega believes the pay increase will help the city reduce turnover but he says a changing population will always present challenges.
“The reality is with our aging work force, the turnover will continue for the foreseeable future,” he said. Ortega added the city is trying to develop other ways to retain employees, such as competitive benefits.
The Tucson Police Offices Association was outspoken during the budget process, saying the city was losing officers to departments willing to pay more.
“We can take our certifications and go to any police department in the state of Arizona and some, not too far away from here, are willing to pay officers a substantial amount of money for the experience they've obtained as Tucson police officers,” TPOA President Tony Archibald said.
Ward Six councilman Steve Kozachik said showing employees they are valued was a priority. He said the raises should help “stem the tide” of workers leaving.
“It won’t fix it, and we didn't intend it to be the elixir fixer going forward,” he said. “We just need to send a message to the employees, and we did, that we value what you do for the City of Tucson.”