The Texarkana Arkansas Board of Directors called an emergency public board meeting this week to vote to approve a settlement ensuring a pay parity between the Texarkana Arkansas and Texarkana Texas Police Departments.
Arkansas Municipal League Attorney, Sarah Monaghan presented to the board the latest offer from the plantiffs to settle the lawsuit. The agreement states that all revenues collected from the .25% sales and use tax passed on January 9, 1996 will be used to pay for salary increases for officers of the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department and to maintain salaries and salary increases for officers of the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department.
Monaghan added that the second term of the agreement states that the city be paid $50,000 in attorney’s fees, as well as $1,000 in additional costs. In a nearly unanimous decision, the board and Mayor Allen Brown voted to approve the settlement.
The standard Arkansas Municipal League settlement agreement includes language that dismisses all plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice, waives any further claims and says the city does not admit any liability in the case, according to Monaghan.
The settlement, brought by Arkansas-side police, ends an ongoing dispute regarding pay parity with Texas-side police. The city argued that the parity taxes were against the state constitution because they effectively let another entity, Texarkana, Texas, set the Arkansas side’s pay policy.
“I think this Is a very good resolution for both the police departments,” Mayor Allen Brown said at the end of the meeting. “It’s certainly a good option for us to move forward with getting the litigation behind us, but also the collection of that tax and spending it within that police departments budget,” he added.
The settlement will not change a pay-raise plan previously approved by the Board in 2019, which states that any year the parity taxes generate enough revenue to fund competitive pay, and Texarkana’s police and fire departments are not competitive with others within a 50-mile radius, competitive compensation will be paid.
The 2019 pay raise plan additionally states that any year when the taxes are insufficient to fund competitive pay, and the general fund reserve is less than 62 days of expenditures, police and firefighters will not get raises. If the tax is not enough but the reserve is more than 62 days, they will get raises to competitive pay or 2.5%, whichever is less.