OUR VIEW: Pay a little now, be thankful for it later

Published 9:30 am Saturday, May 27, 2023

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For various reasons, the LaGrange Police Department is currently down 18 officer positions. That’s not even including an additional five requested by the Troup County School System to fill school resource officer positions, though those positions are paid for by TCSS.

The city of LaGrange, led by City Manager Meg Kelsey, is considering the idea of raising electric rates to pay for raises for LPD officers and to attract more interest in the open positions available.

We certainly need our officers to be paid a comparable wage to other departments within the area.

We’ll also note that for all the “controversy” with the LPD, not one of those investigations has been led by misconduct during a call for service. That doesn’t excuse other behavior and choices, but it’s clear that this remains a top-notch law enforcement agency that should be able to attract top talent.

For some reason, those empty positions haven’t been filled, which brings us back to the idea of raising electric rates.

To be clear, no one wants to pay more on their electric bills. Even an increase of 3%, as has been tossed out as a possibility, will add up to a lot over an entire year. For the majority of you reading this, that’s probably somewhere around $36-$72 a year, depending on how much your electric bill is each month. It adds up, especially in an economy where it appears everything has gone up in price but paychecks remain the same.

If the city does increase electric rates, prices would still be below Georgia Power, which continues to increase its pricing. The city would also remain below Diverse Power’s pricing. For a city that operates based on utility revenue, LaGrange is very competitive.

All of us need the lights on at our homes at an affordable rate. But we also need police protection.

If we call 911, the last thing any of us want to hear is that no one is available to take the call. We’re far from that scenario playing out, but it’s true that the LPD is about four-fifths fully staffed right now. With approximately 20% less manpower, that means fewer people to investigate crimes, to get to wrecks on the Parkway or to patrol your neighborhood.

We also want safe schools, and the SRO positions will ensure every school has an officer stationed at the building. 

The more you pay, the more people you’re going to attract to a position, meaning the pool of candidates is much larger.  You’re much more likely to find a qualified candidate in a deeper pool.

The LPD also doesn’t want to train these officers, get them qualified, only for them to add it to their resume and get a better opportunity with more pay right down the road.

Raising any type of utility bill is a touchy subject, but we’d much rather pay a few dollars now and be thankful we did when dealing with an emergency later.