Biloxi Police And Firefighters Fight For Bigger Pay Raise

"Look at the faces that are in this room, and know that these are the faces that are going to be there for you when you need them," Louis Moran told the Biloxi City Council during a budget hearing on Tuesday.

Flanked by more than 50 police and firefighters, officer Louis Moran made a plea for Biloxi's finest.

"We're here to ask for your serious consideration, your serious consideration, on elevating the proposed five percent pay raise. It's simply not enough," Moran said. "We would like to have 15 percent up front."

Moran says that 15 percent pay hike would apply to all public safety employees, not just the men and women who wear the badge.

"If we're going to do that, then we have to look at a 15 percent raise for all city employees," said Ward 2 Councilman Bill Stallworth.

The officers pointed out that the city is getting more tax money from gaming revenues. And with the cost of living going up these days, they say they truly deserve a bigger pay raise.

During the discussion, Ward 4 Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick studied the salary scale and came up with his own idea.  He's proposing a flat $5,000 raise for police and firefighters who are on the front lines.

"That we give each one of them, adjust their salary brackets by about $5,000," Fitzpatrick said. "At the same time, I'm going to be getting numbers from the personnel department on the rest of the salaries and see if we can give 7.5 percent raises to the rest of the employees throughout the city."

Fitzpatrick will present his proposal to his fellow council members and the mayor. Meantime, the council members say they'll take the officers' 15 percent pay raise request under consideration.

"All we can do is try our best to take care of you all," said Ward 1 Councilman George Lawrence. "We don't want anybody to leave. We need the protection."

Earlier this year, the council boosted the starting pay for police officers to $30,000 a year. The goal was to help with recruitment.

Recruiting good officers was also a major factor in the raise request. According to Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan, his department is still short 23 sworn officers, 19 civilian employees, and eight part-time staff members.

The council must approve a final budget by September 15th.