SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Former SAPD PIO Tracy Piatt-Fox and several anonymous officers have spoken out regarding a possible mass exodus of officers from SAPD, and now the City of San Angelo has made comment.

Many SAPD officers, both current and former, have said that many officers are planning to leave because of low pay, outdated equipment, and lack of support from city and department leaders.

According to the City Manager, Daniel Valenzuela, city staff and the San Angelo Police Officers Coalition have had three meetings over the past four weeks, with the most recent one held Oct. 18. 

The goal of these meetings is to develop a long-term solution to address and implement comparably higher pay for public safety officers. The city reported an increase in employee pay of 15.5% in the last three years and an additional $2,500 stipend to every employee in 2023.

“…admittedly, this has not been enough to keep up with the salary needs for police officers,” said the release.

A San Angelo police officer who has served the department for 10 years currently makes over $2,500 less than an Abilene Police Department cadet in their first year.

Additionally, the city cited that not only is San Angelo struggling with a shortage of police officers, but so are the state and the nation. The release said that law enforcement agencies are competing against each other for a shrinking pool of officers which causes salaries to climb rapidly, which only ‘exacerbated the issue’.

To further complicate the matter, the City stated that the State of Texas has placed a 3.5% limitation on increases in property tax revenues for existing valuations, which has led to a $0.078 drop in the property tax rate. Each penny is valued at $726,004, which equates to a $5.66 million decrease in revenue. 

While this may look positive, the city said it has greatly hampered its ability to properly pay for services, specifically public safety. 

“The 3.5% limitation is much lower than the inflationary rate that has engulfed our cost of service over the past several years,” said the release.

The City can increase above the 3.5% property tax revenue limit, but it would require an election to do so.

“We will continue to work with the San Angelo Police Officers Coalition to develop a solution that is fiscally possible and more comparable to other communities,” said the release. “The City is committed to addressing this issue and retaining its officers. We hold our public safety officers in very high regard, and we are deeply grateful to them for the valuable service they provide.”