With almost five years since a pay increase for county employees, Cobb is losing members of its police force to other agencies, retired Deputy Police Chief Bill Mull told Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee during Monday night's town hall meeting in West Cobb.
There is a “great police department here (in Cobb), but we do have some problems,” said Mull, who spent 42 years on the force, retiring in 2008, and is the president of Cobb’s Fraternal Order of Police chapter.
He added: “We spend lots of money recruiting employees, we spend lots of money a year training them … and then we lose them to go to other agencies.”
Mull said new municipalities, like those in northern Fulton County, are “stealing our employees.” For Cobb, recent furloughs were “negative,” only guns were allocated for police in the most recent SPLOST list, and benefits like drive-home cars aren’t available to police, he said, adding that “morale is low.”
In this rough economy, county officials are “aggressively looking” for the right solution, said Lee, who became chairman after serving as the Northeast Cobb commissioner from 2002-2010.
“We can’t keep going on year after year after year after year without addressing the compensation package for everyone and expect good people to stay and feel good about what they’re doing,” he said before the crowd of about 100 citizens and officials at the West Cobb Senior Center.
Once the Citizen Oversight Committee submits its next report and the Cobb’s five-year Strategic Plan comes out at the end of the month, Lee said the county “can comprehensively look at what we have to permit and provide a meaningful employee compensation package that is realistic and takes into account our current economy.
“Each agency director around here will tell you that at least once a week, they’re having a conversation with someone who’s wondering when is it going to end … and why are government employees being kicked in the teeth.”
For a countywide raise of 1 percent, $4 million is needed, Lee said, adding that he and Mull will be meeting to further discuss the police force.
Other than briefly discussing Cobb's five-year Strategic Plan and EDGE program, Lee mostly let citizens talk and ask questions at Monday's meeting.
Lee will hold three more town hall meetings over the next few months, including April 10 at the Mountain View Community Center in East Cobb.
Michael Stone is the editor of Powder Springs-Lithia Springs Patch.