What to do with Jonesboro's $34 Million surplus is a great question.
The city has much of the money earmarked and that is a reasonable expectation. I think a rainy day fund for the lean times is a good idea, and we need some infrastructure improvements on things like roads and bridges…but it's time to address the elephant in the room.
The Jonesboro Police Department is under-staffed…even after job fairs, and academy graduations, JPD still has 11 open positions.
That's 11 officers not taking calls, not able to come to your home when you need them, not busting drug dealers, and not solving the city's four unsolved murder cases over the past calendar year.
So what's the reason? Money.
The starting pay for a Jonesboro Police officer is around $32,000. That's not enough especially when you consider the cost of living in Jonesboro.
Arkansas State police starting pay is $34,500 - $36,000, Trumann Police start at $$33,300.
Some police officers are graduating, joining JPD, and then months later going other places for more money, less stress, and a lower cost of living…meaning they're putting more money in their pockets at the end of the year.
What can we do about it?
I'm calling on Jonesboro Mayor Herald Perrin, and the Jonesboro City Council, to take some of the surplus and use it to pay police officers and fire fighters a competitive wage.
Money talks. Let's show all the first responders our appreciation by giving them a better living.
When they make a better living, our living gets better…safer…and that means more money in the city's surplus because people are coming to a safer town to spend money.
A higher starting salary, signing bonuses, offering our veteran officers retention bonuses, are all ideas that this city and its administration should be looking at. It wouldn't take the entire surplus to make a difference, and everyone would benefit.
Taking care of those who take care of us brings stability, safety, reinforces our quality of life, and makes this A Better Region 8.
- Chris Conroy, KAIT VP & General Manager
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