CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Police departments around the country are battling an increase in retirements and attracting new officers for the job, including CMPD.
The continuation of retiring officers along with the benefits the City of Charlotte offers police to help retain them is costing the city more money than it has, based on projections.
Ryan Bergman, Budget Director for the City of Charlotte, told council he feels good about where the city is heading financially.
However, his office, along with council, will have to decide how to come up with an estimated $6.8 million.
The city will have an estimated $17.5 million of new revenue for 2021, according to Bergman. However, he added the city will have to spend around $24.3 million in new expenditures.
That difference creates the $6.8 million gap.
The largest contribution to the added costs for 2021 are the benefits given to public safety, including paying CMPD officers more money to stay on the force.
An aging workforce at the department is also costing the city more in its city-supplement-pension plan.
The city's supplement pension plan is for those officers who served 30 years of credible service or reach age 55, according to the department's website.
The plan is an in-between plan that allows those officers to gain a pension payment until they reach age 62 to receive social security.
"It's not any of our doing when our police officers retire as soon as they're able, it's simply the financial thing to do for them," Bergman said.
Between 2013-15, 30 officers retired. That's compared to 69 officers who retired between 2016-18. But in 2019 alone, 65 CMPD officers retired from the force.
The department currently has 182 openings, according to Bergman.
"Let's be honest, this profession's been through a lot," Chief Kerr Putney said in a previous interview. "We as an organization have been through a lot."
The city has also tried throwing money at officers to get them to stay with the department.
The highest-paid officers (top step officers) make nearly $80,800 a year, according to Bergman's presentation to council. That's compared to $72,600 just 18 months ago.
The average income for a CMPD officer is $71,500, which is thousands higher than the $65,700 that was the average 18 months ago, according to Bergman.
CMPD did have more lateral hires, with 85 of those in 2018-19, up from 26 lateral hires in 2016-17.
Bergman said he's not concerned about the gap, and noted his office slashed $12 million in spending in the last budget.