A bill to increase village public safety officers' pay and benefits - as well as their duties - has been approved by the state Senate.
Aimed at reducing an annual turnover rate that averages 40 percent, Senate Bill 145 would make officers eligible for the state's retirement system and boost pay by more than 11 percent. In exchange, officers will take on probation and parole responsibilities. Current duties include law enforcement, firefighting and emergency services.
The bill, passed Monday, now moves to the House.
Senate President Rick Halford, a Chugiak Republican, and 15 co-sponsors put their names on the bill.
"I believe it will do more good for less money for more people in greater need than many of the other things we do," Halford said.
Starting pay for a VPSO starts at $11 to $15 per hour, depending on the region. The bill, carrying an initial price tag of $1.3 million, will add $5,000 to $6,000 annually to officers' pay, bringing it up to about $35,000 for a job that requires being on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Halford said.