PSL Police Officers Fight To Keep Their Jobs: Managers Get Raises

Posted by Paige Bresky --email

PORT SAINT LUCIE, FL (WFLX) ---  The two Port St. Lucie city leaders getting raises are City Manager Jerry Bentrott and Assistant City Manager, Greg Oravec.

Bentrott gets a nearly $13,000 bump.

His number two man gets a $16,500 raise in pay.

So what gives?

FOX 29's Al Pefley pushed for answers and an explanation.

The two city officials actually got these raises earlier this year, before contract negotions with the city became heated.

But the police union feels hurt, saying if the city really is nearly broke, it shouldn't be handing out cash to any of its high-ranking employees.

The police union says two top officials at City Hall are raking it in, getting fat pay raises at a time when city leaders say Port St. Lucie is almost broke and has to lay off police officers in order to make ends meet.

"It's kind of a slap in the face," said Police Union Vice President Robert Loupe.

The police union can't believe what's happening.

"If you're gonna hand out that kind of money but tell us that we have to lay off police officers or other city workers, that's a little hard to believe. I just can't buy that," Loupe added.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the city announced it was laying off two dozen sworn police officers and three civilian police employees.

This move had some officers in tears.

"I put my life on the line and I bust my butt for this city, and this is how they repay me," said police officer Courtney Robinson.

Now it's been revealed that Port St Lucie City manager Jerry Bentrott got a hefty pay raise when he was promoted earlier this year.

And so did Assistant City Manager Greg Oravec.

He got a raise of more than $16,000 a year.

"It's kind of a slap in the face, it's disheartening," she said.

"In this economic climate, while they're telling us they're gonna have to lay off police officers, to me, that money could be better spent saving somebody's job," Loupe added.

FOX 29 talked to a few average citizens in Port St. Lucie, to get their take on this.

"I don't think any of the officials in Port St. Lucie should be getting raises if we have to lay off our policemen," said Port St. Lucie resident David George.

"I think it's ridiculous. I think that $16,000 could actually pay for three to six months of a rookie's salary for the Port St. Lucie police department. I think it's ridiculous," said Port St. Lucie resident Bud Evans.

With our economy the way it is, everybody's cutting back. So why don't they?" Port St. Lucie resident Sandy Klepfer said.

FOX 29 did get a written statement from Assistant City Manager, Greg Oravec, which reads in part:

"Though this increase was not a City 'pay raise' in the technical sense, such as a merit or cost of living increase, I can appreciate that it is an increase in total compensation and subject to heightened discourse during these difficult times."

Oravec also said that in the past 3 years, it's important to remember that police officers' pay has gone up by 22% in Port St. Lucie and that should not be overlooked.

The police union says the city has actually doled out more than $400,000 in raises in the past eighteen months, money which the union says could've saved some police jobs.

The police layoffs are scheduled to take effect September 24.