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Mar 26, 2013 8:47 PM by Lorraine Rivera

Council to hear budget proposals Wednesday

TUCSON - Tucson's city council will begin hearing proposals on the 2014 budget.

A big portion of that budget includes compensation for public safety personnel including Tucson police and fire.

Richard Radisnky, the grievance chairman for the Tucson Police Officers Association says officers haven't seen a pay increase in the last six years. "Our seven year officer is making the same as the guy in the academy. That same officer could take that experience, go an hour and half up the road, and work for Mesa PD and make about 30 percent more."

Councilman Steve Kozachik, who represents Ward 6, charted salaries for law enforcement and fire personnel in the area. He said it shows Tucson public safety personnel make less than nearby communities, "so, if you making 65, 68 here and you can make 80 or 85 up in Phoenix, Mesa. Where are you going to go?"

The chart shows that on average, across the board, a Tucson fire fighter can make up to $69,000 a year. Whereas, a Tucson police officer, across the board, on average can make up to $68,000.

A union representative for the Tucson Fire Department said that at least a dozen fire fighters have left recently in search of better pay. And Radinsky says at least 30 police officers have left TPD for agencies that offer better pay.

Radinsky said if the city doesn't offer more competitive salaries change could be coming, "and then because it is a marketable skill they're going to go and like free agents in baseball they're going to go to the highest bidder and so we will in essence become the minor league ball club of state of arizona when it comes to law enforcement."

The city council is not expected to take any action on the 2014 budget until at least mid April.

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