The starting pay for Fairfax City police officers--the lowest of any major jurisdiction in Northern Virginia--should be raised to "recruit and motivate" officers, a consultant's report has suggested.

Public Administration Service, a McLean-based consulting firm, made the recommendation after studying city pay scales. The report pointed out that starting salary for Fairfax City police officers is $16,870--$1,000 to $2,000 below that paid by surrounding Virginia jurisdictions.

"Both the police chief and fire administrator were of the strong opinion that pay for public-safety positions was lagging behind comparable jurisdictions, particularly Fairfax County," the report said, "and that this was creating difficulties in attracting, retaining and motivating personnel."

In its report to the City Council last week, the firm said a similar raise should be considered for firefighters, "although the supporting data are somewhat less persuasive." Starting city firefighters earn $16,870, about $320 less than the lowest-paid Fairfax County firefighter.

The $13,250 consultant's study found that in future years, city officials should consider abolishing the current 5 percent (pay) steps within each range and provide for annual increases "based entirely on performance."

In the future, "less than fully satisfactory employes would receive no annual increase, and only superior or exceptional performance would justify increases above the mid-point of the salary range," the report suggested. The pay recommendations would cost the city $150,000 to $185,000; the council included $257,000 for salary adjustments in the fiscal 1983 budget, which begins July 1.

In another personnel matter, Fairfax City Manager Edward A. Wyatt named T. Jon Ellestand assistant city manager. Ellestad, 33, assistant city manager in Blacksburg, Va., will assume the $33,000-a-year job June 21. He succeeds Robert Norris, who resigned last March. Norris served as acting city manager until Wyatt was appointed.