Texarkana, Arkansas board approves pay plan options

TEXARKANA, Ark. - The Texarkana, Arkansas, Board of Directors approved two ordinances Tuesday night that could resolve the ongoing pay dispute for police and firefighters.

Mayor Allen Brown said the ordinances promise competitive pay raises for police and fire.

Fire department employees were neutral on the plan, while the police association was against the plans. They said the pay raise would go towards their benefits instead of their base pay. A lawsuit concerning the issue is pending.

Brown said the city workers were going to prepare an ordinance for the board's next meeting that would give all city employees, including police officers and firefighters, an immediate 2 percent pay increase.

More than 20 years ago, voters approved a pair of quarter cent sales taxes to keep civil servant salaries equal to their Texas-side counterparts.

A group of citizens filed a lawsuit in 2017 against the city forcing police pay parity with a court ruling.

The city has argued that parity taxes are unconstitutional because they allow another entity to set their pay policy.

Board members have said they want to resolve the issue before a judge rules that they can no longer collect pay parity taxes.

"It's vital that we continue to maintain this particular tax, but we've got move forward and still continue to increase revenues, or we could end up back where we are today. That's sitting trying to decide if we can give a raise or not give a raise," said Brown.

Last year, the pay parity taxes generated more than $2 million in revenue.

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