Tucson and police/fire draw pay battle lines

The city if Tucson has decided it wants to talk pay with its public safety officers.

Ward VI city council member Steve Kozachik brought up an idea a few weeks ago to get rid of the sick leave sell back afforded to police and fire.

It costs the city $2.5 million a year.

More than a 100 police and fire officers receive more that $7,000 selling back unused sick time.

"Back in the day we offered premium pay incentives" because the public sector pay didn't match the private sector, says Kozachik."But these days the public sector has caught up with the private sector."

To illustrate the point, the city handed out a survey of police and fire salaries.

It shows all the agencies in the Tucson valley as being comparable.

A mid-range TPD officer makes $54,350. In Oro Valley, it's $53,488. Marana, $55,662.

The problem is, the Tucson Police Officers Association doesn't buy the numbers.

"it's the first question we asked, where'd they come from," says TPOA President Bill Bonnano. "How do we know they're accurate."

He says last year TPOA did it's own study showing mid range Tucson police salaries above only Yuma.

But Kozachik defends the numbers saying they we're put together by the Human Resources Department and will guide the city's discussions,

He was surprised the issue didn't get more attention during the city's compensation discussion.

That's only because the city has put it off until another day.