A regular meeting for the Helper City Council was hosted on Thursday evening. The council welcomed Helper City Police Sergeant Sean Draper to the podium to begin the discussion on the possible approval of pay increases and the adoption of an appropriate pay scale for the department.
Sgt. Draper explained that Chief Chris Gigliotti wanted to be in attendance, but had a family emergency to take care of. Sgt. Draper then stated that he holds many responsibilities within the department and currently has over 1,200 hours of specialized training while also being an instructor, certified in many areas.
He began his career in 2016 with the Utah Department of Corrections at the Utah State Prison. While there, he was involved in numerous critical incidences before returning home. While working in Helper, he has made over 200 warrant arrests, 200 drug arrests, apprehended violent criminals, and investigated many cases, now including a homicide.
Sgt. Draper then spoke on how the department not only loses veteran officers, but there are many that do not stay for very long and others still that have been terminated. Since being at the agency, Sgt. Draper himself has trained five different officers.
He then went on to explain that full training consists of six weeks for an initial certification, 10 weeks for yet another certification and 10 weeks of field training. This is all required before an officer is allowed to work a single shift on their own. Sgt. Draper stated that the goal should be to obtain the best candidates possible to fill the department, as the best possible service is owed to the citizens and the city.
From there, he said that the answer boils down to pay in regard to why officers do not wish to stay in Helper for their career. Sgt. Draper broke down the department’s pay scales, stating that Chief Gigliotti makes $30 an hour, Sgt. Draper himself makes $25, Officer Shaw makes $21, Olsen makes $21.30, and the like.
He acknowledged that these numbers look fine until they are compared to other Carbon County officers’ wages. At the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, a sergeant with 19 years of experience makes over $30, while some make over $35 and one officer with eight years of experience makes $29.16. Meanwhile, the Price City Police Chief makes $44 per hour and a sergeant with 24 years of experience was making over $35.
Helper City is the lowest-paid law enforcement department in the entire county. Sgt. Draper requested for the pay scale to be followed to the letter beginning on July 1 of this year, which is when the city’s new fiscal year begins.
The proposal is for Chief Gigiliotti to make $42.44; Sgt. Draper, $33.88; Officer Shaw, $26.53; Officer Olsen, $27.06; and Officer Newman, after probation, $25.50. Sgt. Draper spoke about employee evaluations and how they can be set up before the possible implementation of said pay scale.
He believes that this can increase morale and productivity while creating a stronger and more healthy relationship between the department and the city. This pay scale can also aid in retaining officers.
Mayor Lenise Peterman began by making the council aware that Helper City pays in whole for benefits before agreeing that a change must be made for the officers. A few years ago, the city was in a situation where they were not really able to do much, but times are different now, the mayor stated.
Mayor Peterman urged a further discussion between the council members as now is the time to proactively budget. The council agreed that the request was warranted and must be considered, though it was stated that such a decision could not be made that night as there was so much to detail.
Mayor Peterman tasked the council with researching the possible avenues for these proposals, such as the need to raise electricity taxes. She acknowledged that raising taxes is never a favorable avenue, but that the city is the lowest in utilities and needs to be able to stay consistent. This item was tabled to further discuss and explore the adoption of the appropriate pay raises and scales for the department.