Yesterday’s afternoon workshop was very lengthy and also very interesting. I started in a Municipal Policy Committee meeting. The primary subject had to do with Pay Day Loans. Essentially there are two avenues to take on this subject. The first is a land use issue. This is an area that the city can currently take a stance. It was my suggestion that the city move ahead to utilize our zoning capability now. The Unified Development Code will be amended to reflect another use of “Alternative Financial Establishments.” These businesses would have to be in a standalone building, and cannot be within 1,000 ft of each other. They have to be 200 ft from residential homes and at least 500 ft from major highway entrances. Although current establishments will be grandfathered in at their current locations, the above will establish strict guidelines for new applicants. The second avenue will be business guidelines. Since the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is currently looking at guidelines concerning these businesses, it would be foolish for a city to establish policy that would be overruled by their decisions within the year. So this avenue is closed to the city, for the time being.
The other area of interest had to do with the budget and the wages for sworn and staff employees. Trey Yelverton is trying to establish city employees’ wages at a level commensurate with the amount of work expected of them. I pointed out that there is a discrepancy in the manning level of the fire department. We have the lowest number of firemen per capita of any department in the metroplex, by a wide margin. Looking at a manning document provided to me by the AFFA union, it was noted that the fire department was only manned properly, at the 84 man level, 44.5% of the time. Then I compared the overtime numbers to the rest of the metroplex, because that would be the only place that manning could get its solution to the equation. Sure enough, Arlington is second in overtime per capita, in the metroplex. Ft. Worth was number one. So I submit that this is an equation out of equilibrium, and not the proper way to man a fire department. Now I am aware that the people that work the overtime are doing the job and working for their pay, and that is appreciated. But the numbers are way off the charts, and they were brought to me in a book supplied by the AFFA.
The last item is the fact that Trey is trying desperately to get sworn positions up to a 75% level over the next 5 years, while simultaneously getting staff to 50%. This disparity is untenable. I pointed out that turnover is very low with sworn positions, and that the employees that are leaving are mostly staff positions. Therefore, the inconsistency in percentile ranking is a flawed hypothesis. What monies that are to be distributed need to be targeted strategically in an effort to maximize their affect in certain categories and maintain job satisfaction.