NEENAH - A Neenah police captain asking to be demoted to earn a pay raise.
That's because the lieutenants he has supervised the past eight years, now make more than he does.
Capt. Howard Fuerst received a 1.7 percent raise this year, meaning his salary will be $78,519.
Lieutenants who are represented by a union earned a three percent raise, meaning they'll now make $78,841 - or $78,875 before overtime, which can significantly raise their salary over their base pay.
"It comes down to fairness," said Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson.
And keeping employees happy.
"It comes down to value. In this case we're talking about an employee who has very faithfully served this community for 23 years" he said.
Wilkinson says Fuerst asked for the demotion twice before and twice Wilkinson declined the request based on what he says were promised from the city council to address the issue.
While he has yet to decide on Fuerst's latest request, Wilkinson says he warned the council about the pay issue for the last three years.
"We'd like to get it resolved," Wilkinson said.
But Mayor George Scherck says the issue boils down to more than just a pay raise for one police officer.
"It's not just, OK we'll give you $500 more. If that was the solution, we would have done that a long time ago."
And Scherck says other departments will soon be facing the same wage problems.
"You've got the fire department and you've got public works."
The city is funding a $20,000 compensation study for all city workers.
"We're concerned are people being paid adequately, are they at the right grades."
The power to make that change rests with the council, but the police commission is also concerned what not solving the issue could mean for the future of the department.
"We need to, in our role, hire the best people for positions here in Neenah, whether that is entry-level or through promotions, and anything that could create a problem with that is an issue for us," said Police Commission Chairman Jim Prosser.
Scherck says the study will be completed this fall, but any salary changes likely won't take effect until sometime next year.
Wilkinson says other police departments around the state are also facing similar issues.
Appleton is also trying to address a pay inversion problem between some sergeants and lieutenants in its police department.
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