By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

We have a rock-solid police department. It is efficient, up-to-date, and led by some talented officers. However, over the years, city officials have struggled to keep up with the rising cost of law enforcement, as the pay of Lemoore officers has historically run behind many other departments in the Central Valley and California.

It seemed that talented officers were always leaving us for better paying jobs in other departments. Past councils, keeping in mind that city finances were limited, granted modest packages, but it was never enough.  

Recently the Lemoore City Council gave the Lemoore Department’s sergeants and regular officers a big boost in pay - a well-deserved boost in pay. Basically, Lemoore officers, in a three-year deal, will get a 10 percent increase in their basic pay. The sergeants will get a three-year package amounting to 20.5 percent increase.

However, established officers will have to contribute some of that increase back into their retirement.

However, city officials are not quite sure how they’re going to pay for this package. In other words, management is betting that the funding needed for this pay boost will magically appear, or in the words of the city manager, other areas of the city budget will have to make sacrifices.

“We’re going to do a mid-year adjustment,” he said during a recent council meeting, “probably at the second meeting in January and we’ll know exactly where we’re at and we’ll budget accordingly. We’ll try to live within our means based on these numbers, and we’ll know what they are. We’ll just have to go and make other sacrifices elsewhere unless we bring in additional general-fund revenues that will offset these costs,” said City Manager Jeff Laws.

Sacrifices? Will that mean hits to the recreation department or economic development? Will councilmembers be forced to give up their $200-a-month salaries?

Maybe other employee organizations will be asked to sacrifice their pay increases? They might start with the city manager, who recently was the beneficiary of a 7-percent-pay boost, which included a 2-percent regular adjustment as well as a 5-percent boost approved by the city council in a 3-2 vote. Councilmembers Ray Madrigal and Eddie Neal voted against the pay hike.