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Survey shows Mission police, firefighters aren’t happy with pay and benefits

Mission police officers aren’t happy with pay and benefits, according to survey results reviewed by the City Council on Monday.

The survey results showed a rift between Mission Police Department employees and senior management, according to records reviewed by the Mission City Council on Monday afternoon. Officers also registered dissatisfaction with pay, benefits and job-relating training.

City of Mission logoThe survey results will allow Mission to identify and address workplace problems.

“We’re going to have happier employees — and better customer service is our ultimate goal,” said City Councilwoman Jessica Ortega-Ochoa.

The city worked with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Data and Information Systems Center on the survey, which asked city employees about compensation, benefits, management and the work environment.

About 660 employees completed the survey, which the university administered from Sept. 26 to Oct. 5, according to a presentation by university Economic Research Director Michael Uhrbrock, who briefed the City Council on Monday.

While nearly 70 percent of employees said they were satisfied with city health care benefits, just 41 percent were satisfied with overall compensation.

The municipal court, police department and fire department had the lowest levels of employee satisfaction.

Court employees weren’t happy with communication between senior management and workers, reported they weren’t able to make decisions affecting their jobs, and weren’t happy with workplace culture.

Police department employees had similar concerns, reporting a lack of trust between senior management and workers. They also were less satisfied with job-related training, pay and benefits than other city employees.

The survey provides an opportunity to identify and address concerns, said police Chief Robert Dominguez, who added that he looked forward to receiving additional feedback from a follow-up survey.

“I’ve worked here 32 years,” Dominguez said. “This is the first time the city does anything like this.”

Many issues addressed by the survey, including pay and benefits, aren’t quick fixes.

Officers negotiate pay and benefits with the city during the collective bargaining process. The department also hires and promotes officers based on the results of civil service exams, which limits the flexibility of management.

Mayor Armando “Doc” O’caña acknowledged that pay remains a big issue for police officers, which hurts the city’s ability to recruit and retain talent.

“Well, let me put it this way. Mission advertises for civil service for the PD last year: 85 applicants. Man, we’re doing great, you know?” O’caña said. “Edinburg advertises for civil service: 365 applicants. We review the starting pay for Mission and Edinburg. And there’s an extremely big gap.”

O’caña said the City Council will study how to make Mission more competitive while remaining fiscally responsible.

Detailed results for fire department employees weren’t available Monday.

Both the city and UTRGV kept the employee survey results confidential for months.

The Progress Times started submitting public information requests for the results in November, three weeks after employees completed the survey.

Mission didn’t receive the survey results until January. UTRGV, which collected the data, refused to release any records and requested a decision from the Attorney General’s Office.

The City Council may review the full results in executive session, O’caña said, adding that individual employee comments may not be appropriate for public discussion.

When the mayor asked attorney Robert “Bob” Galligan whether or not the City Council could discuss the matter privately, though, Galligan couldn’t provide a definitive answer — because he hadn’t been provided with a copy of the full survey either.

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