ST. PAULS — The town’s Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved a pay scale adjustment that means police officers can be paid a little more.
The adjusted pay scale that will go into effect July 1 provides 2 percent pay increases for officers for obtaining certain advanced training and certifications, and an associate’s degree. The pay increases go into effect July 1 for offices who have already obtained the training and certification.
The town is budgeted for 13 police officers. There were eight officers on the force in January.
“We have vacancies,” said J.R. Steigerwald, town administrator
The new scale is estimated to cost the town about $5,000 more a year.
“If it keeps one officer from leaving it will pay for itself,” Steigerwald said.
This is the second pay adjustment the town’s commissioners have approved this calendar year. The commissioners voted Jan. 11 to eliminate the first two steps in the police department’s pay scale, thus increasing the base salary by $2,000. The town commissioners approved paying the officers overtime in November . Before then, officers who worked overtime were compensated with time off.
The commissioners on Thursday also approved a zoning ordinance change intended to prevent the proliferation of churches in the town’s Central Business District, which is along Broad Street between Elizabeth and Fourth streets. The change is taking the word “religious” out of the ordinance.
Removing the word prevents the use of religion as a basis for a conditional-use permit request, Steigerwald said.
The ordinance change goes into effect immediately. It means if a church already in the Central Business District moves it can not return. The change does not affect churches already in the district, of which there are at least three.
The intent was was to keep open building space into which businesses can move as well as to free up parking spaces on Sundays for use by customers at the restaurants.
“There are a lot of times at 11 a.m. on Sundays when there are not a lot of parking spaces open,” Steigerwald said.
The commissioners also approved an ordinance that would allow the town to place liens on property for failure to pay past due utility bills. The approval comes with the condition that it be rewritten at the town attorney’s discretion.
The ordinance particularly addresses property owners not paying their sewer bills. The town is prohibited by state law from stopping sewer service, which is considered an essential service.
The town administrator is not sure how many homes the ordinance change will affect.
A proposed threshold for action by the town is $2,500 unpaid utilities fees, Steigerwald said.
In other business, the commissioners;
— Approved the creation of a Maintenance Worker 2 position. This was done to reward town employees with many years of service, are on call to handle maintenance problems and have additional responsibilities.
— Tabled discussion of a personnel ordinance amendment that would allow town employees to transfer unused sick time to other employees who have used all of their sick time and vacation time. The commissioners want the town attorney to review the amendment.
— Adopted a proclamation stating Arbor Day will be celebrated on April 27.
— Approved closing a section of West Armfield Street from North First Street to North Fourth Street and to close North Third Street from West Broad Street to 200 feet past West Armfield Street on May 12 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Folk Art Festival.
— Authorized the town staff to allow Richard Fisher to buy a plot at Oakridge Cemetery at the in-town rate because he lived in St. Pauls for 30 years before moving to a home on Evans Street that is about 60 feet outside the town limit.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]