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Fairfax County police union calls 10% raise proposal ‘a good start’

Fairfax County police badge (via FCPD/Facebook)

The head of the Fairfax County Police Department’s largest union says a bigger pay increase could help recruit and retain officers, but there’s a lack of parity between experienced officers and new recruits.

Ali Soheilian, president of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association Fairfax County chapter, which has over 700 members, says experienced officers have missed out on several 5% merit increases.

“At this time I have officers that have missed 5 or more merits, so they are still at least 25% behind where the County promised they should be when they hired them,” he said in an email.

But he adds that initial proposals from the county government have started the healing process.

A proposed budget for the upcoming 2023 fiscal year, which starts July 1, gives all county employees a 4% salary market rate adjustment, with uniformed professional workers — known as merit employees — poised to get 7.86% increases on average.

County Executive Bryan Hill also recommended providing another raise based on longevity for those who reach 25 years of service.

Current longevity steps are only at 15 and 20 years for public safety workers.

Last week, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity proposed allocating $20 million to raise salaries by 10% for police with the rank of second lieutenant and below, citing concerns over recruitment and retention.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement that the county recognizes the challenges in recruiting and retaining employees across all departments, an issue that local governments are “seeing nationwide.”

All county government employees saw a pause on certain step increases for merit and longevity pay in recent years, including fiscal years 2014, 2021, and 2022. According to the county, those came amid economic constraints and the pandemic, but public safety workers received longevity increases in FY 2014 and all county workers received a 1% market rate adjustment in FY 2022.

Market rate adjustment increases, which are intended to keep salaries competitive, were fully funded in FY 2013, 2015 and 2019, partially funded in FY 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2022, and not funded in FY 2014, 2018 or 2021.

“All in all, it’s a good start, but we need to take a hard look at restoring officers to their missed merits as well,” wrote Soheilian. “This was done at our neighboring agency at the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, and the combination of salary increases and restoration of missed merits stopped their attrition problem.”

Photo via FCPD/Facebook

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