On Monday, the City Council voted in favor of a pay raise for Birminghams police officers and firefighters, and they had to defy the mayor to do it.
City councilors listened as a handful of citizens talked about the much-discussed raise for police officers and firefighters. Following two hours of discussion between the council members and the mayor, the council voted 7-1 in favor of the raise, overriding Kincaids veto.
The council doesnt have the authority to do what was done today, said Kincaid.
The vote would raise the classification of police and firefighters by three grades, meaning they would receive a 5 percent pay raise over the next three years beginning next year.
Police contend that would make Birmingham the eighth-highest paid department in the state, which falls far short of the top level Kincaid promised following the 2004 murders of three Birmingham police officers. But Kincaid said the 20-year retirement should be counted toward that goal and hes threatening to take legal action against Tuesdays vote.
Detective Scott Morrow said he believes the raise will help morale.
A happy police officer will work. An unhappy police officer wont work, and one police officer in a community can make a big difference, said Morrow.
Shortly before the vote, Kincaid called for a study to find out where the citys first responders fall in comparison to other departments.
Wed have to look at what we can afford, because once you put it in, its in there, Kincaid said.
He is going to fight this tooth and nail, and again, its about him winning and not about the citizens of Birmingham, said Joel Montgomery of the Birmingham City Council.
According to Dexter Cunningham of the Fraternal Order of Police, Birmingham officers go on 3 million calls a year, which, he said, is more than all the surrounding departments combined. The force is also 125 officers short and has received approval to fill only 37 of those positions.
Were at a crisis point. This is just the beginning; this is not the end. This is the beginning because were so very far behind, said Cunningham.
Both the City Council and Kincaid are seeking legal council.
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