Virginia Beach not hiring more cops, but giving pay and merit raises to city employees

Posted at 5:38 PM, May 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-02 17:38:37-04

A NewsChannel 3 investigation revealed that Virginia Beach will not be giving their police department the funding needed to hire nearly 60 new officers.

Chief Jim Cervera wanted to beef up the force in hotspots like the Oceanfront and Town Center to help police the resort city as it grows.

When we asked the mayor, who has touted Light Rail and the proposed arena development, he told us the money just isn't there for it.

“We will get an additional police force in the years ahead, it will not be started this year,” said Mayor Will Sessoms.

So what will be funded in this year's budget?

A big chunk will be going to giving city employees about a 1.5% pay raise, as well as addressing what is known as salary compression.

Virginia Beach, like many other cities during the recession, stopped the practice of merit raises for employees.

So now, for example, police officers hired 5-10 years ago are making the same salary as newly hired police officers!

It will cost the city about $1.5 million to fix the inequities for about 3,000 affected employees.

The school system is also doing the same, for bus drivers, food service workers and teaching assistants whose pay didn't grow with experience, to the tune of $1.1 million.

NewsChannel 3 found other approved expenditures in the budget include money for new voting systems, a new online court records system and even electric stretchers so paramedics don't injure themselves while transporting overweight patients.

But are those worth more than hiring police officers?

Only Virginia Beach residents can be the judge.

The City Council is expected to vote on this budget on May 13th.