A new Conyers Police Department salary system, including a raise and incentive pay, was approved by Conyers City Council at its March 19 meeting.
The plan will boost the current police pay budget of $2,742,843 by about $143,000, or roughly 5 percent. It is intended to attract better applicants for police jobs and to encourage officers to seek better education, training and promotions.
"This makes us very competitive...on the east side of [metro Atlanta]" in attracting quality candidate for police jobs, Police Chief Gene Wilson told the council.
The budget includes a slight raise, but is focused on the incentive system, which has many categories. For example, officers can get pay boosts for earning college degrees: 3 percent for an associate's, 7 percent for a bachelor's and 10 percent for a master's.
Successful training at the FBI National Academy earns an officer a 5 percent boost. Premium pay incentives are also available for certified skill in such specialty areas as K-9 police dog handling and language translation. A tenure incentive gives officers a 2 percent raise for every three years they serve, capped at the maximum salary for their pay grade.
In the new system the annual salary of a cadet would start at $32,685.71, police officer I at $34,320-$38,866, and a detective at 37,838-$49,961.
Wilson first proposed the new pay system at the city's annual Winter Retreat in January. At the News previously reported, he noted that serious crime in Conyers is up nearly 8 percent over last year, while the police department struggled to attract quality job candidates.
At the retreat, Wilson estimated the pay system would boost the police salary budget by about $117,000. It ended up being a bit higher because the department decided to add two new premium-pay positions: a crime scene investigator and a school resource officer.
In other council business:
- A collection agency will begin tracking down unpaid minor traffic tickets under a new deal approved by the council. Peach State Enforcement, which already handles the city's delinquent property tax accounts, won the contract. The company will not be paid anything by the city, instead taking 20 percent or $20-whichever is higher-of any unpaid fine it manages to collect. People with unpaid tickets will be able to pay online through peachstateenforcement.com.
Chief Wilson said this type of traffic ticket collection is a new program and Peach State appears to be the only company offering it in the area. He said the police department is unsure how much money it might bring, so the contract is considered a one-year experiment.
City Manager Tony Lucas said it is intended partly as a convenience for people who might not realize they have unpaid tickets. He cited a recent example of a former resident who moved to Texas and was unable to get a driver's license there because of an outstanding Conyers ticket.
"This is a simple solution. They can handle this over the Internet," said Lucas. It will apply only to minor traffic citations, not to more serious charges such as DUI.
- The council approved expanding restrictions on locations of adult entertainment businesses to the Gateway Village area. The code bans such businesses within 500 feet of a business that sells alcohol, and within 1,000 feet of churches, schools, parks and similar locations-even if those locations are outside the city limits. Businesses can appeal and seek variances.
Conyers planning director Marvin Flanigan previously told the News that the update follows an unidentified business contacting the city to ask about adult entertainment zoning.
While city zoning doesn't literally extend outside city limits, Flanigan said that the county indicated it would cooperate with the adult entertainment distance restrictions. County planning director Marshall Walker previously told the News the county is reviewing its adult entertainment restrictions as well for possible updating.'
-The council approved some other zoning tweaks. The current code bans outdoor lighting that points upward, but that will now be allowed for illuminating landscaping elements. The maximum brightness of lighting allowed in various districts was increased, including Gateway Village and industrial areas. And the Mixed-Use Development District code was updated to require a master plan for any project of 10 or more acres, and to require such projects to include varied architectural styles and stick to a detailed list of high-quality construction materials.