(October 6, 2006) -- In a specially agendized closed session shortly after 5:00 p.m. Friday, the City Council voted 8-0 (Richardson absent) to offer the LB Police Officers Ass'n an additional roughly $9 million in officer compensation, in steps commencing Oct. 2006 (FY 07) and extending through FYs 08 and 09, over and above raises in the current contract, negotiated and agreed to by the LBPOA and City Hall in 2005.
The Council offer -- dubbed a Police Recruitment/Retention plan by management -- would amend the current POA agreement as follows:
- Effective October 2006: Establish a 5% longevity incentive for officers with more than 10 years of service.
- Effective October 2007: Establish another 5% longevity incentive (a total of 10%) for officers with more than 15 years service.
- Effective April 2008: Provide an additional 2% across the board salary increase (for all officers, all 900+)
- Effective April 2009: Provide an additional 3% across the board salary increase (net 5%) (also for all 900+ officers)
As proposed by Mayor Foster in August and budgeted by the Council in September, $2.1 million will come from an expected Sempra Energy lawsuit settlement. $7 million on top of that will come from it says are anticipated structural surpluses, expected by management in FYs 08 and 09.
If the new Council offer is accepted by the LB Police Officers Ass'n rank and file, and confirmed by a publicly voted action of the City Council, the additional sums would become continuing contractual obligations of LB taxpayers...whether or not management's anticipated structural surpluses come to pass.
Isn't the $2.1 million a use of one-time revenues for ongoing expenses, something the Council was previously warned about and candidate Foster warned against? Mayor Foster said, "This is a bridge...We've got to get over this year so, yes...it's a bridge under I think fairly conservative assumptions as to what revenue are available for future years. It's a risk I know Mr. Miller is comfortable taking [nods in agreement], I'm comfortable taking, it's necessary. You look at any chart on where we stand on police pay, it's definitely near the bottom."
City Manager Miller added that if the offer is accepted by the POA membership, management will do a budget adjustment later in the year and "will display at that point in time the exact methodology for paying for this increase in FY 07."
LBReport.com asked Mayor Bob Foster if LB would be budgeting 100 additional officers by the end of FY 2010 [ends Sept. 30, 2010, basically the end of his first term of office]. Mayor Foster replied, "I'm going to do everything I can, I know [City Manager Miller] is going to everything he can to make that happen. I'm going to try to make good on that commitment. I can't predict four years from now, but I'll tell you, I'm going to give every effort I have to make that happen."
LBReport.com asked City Manager Miller if it has any plans to provide increased police staffing levels in the future. City Manager Miller replied, "Not in this [retention/recruitment plan] but we are looking at some other internal reviews that are not the subject of this negotiation that I think begins to work towards that question, and I'd rather save that for the time being but we are looking for some potential ways in which to make more efficient the operation."
Police Chief Anthony Batts added, "We have other innovative approaches that we're working on. You saw that we've taken off the head of the "Insane Crip" gang [a joint federal/local project] where most of those guys, there were 20 in number, went away for 20-plus years. We're doing more of those things. I think that will help to reduce the crime rate overall. I think as we participated in community policing, where we're going after root causes, and we're taking out structures, we're taking out things that have caused eyesores to the community...we're taking those things out through nuisance abatement. Because we're trying these new and innovative approaches, I think those are going to help us long-range. If those continue to work, maybe it's not 100 [more officers] that we need long range. And maybe there's other ways internally to that we can do some other innovative approaches..."
Reached for comment via cell phone after the briefing, Police Officers Association president Steve James told LBReport.com that the "magnitude of the problem is enormous. We [City of LB] let our compensation fall far behind surrounding agencies." He said his union's members weren't asking to be the highest paid...and the new offer would still leave them earning roughly $10,000 a year less than some surrounding agencies. He said his officers indicated they wouldn't likely leave over this gap.
City Hall agreed to reopen its current contract with the LBPOA amid a rash of officers leaving LBPD for other departments, combined with difficulty in recruiting new officers. In accepting the 2005 contract, LBPOA said it would ensure that Long Beach officers' compensation would be at the median of Police Officers' salaries in the 10 largest cities in the state by the time it expires" on Sept. 30, 2009. It came after LB police officers worked without a contract for over a year and went without wage adjustments for four years. Their first raise since 2001 came on October 1, 2005.
LBReport.com asked Dir. of Finance Mike Killebrew what LB police officers would receive under the current the new offer compared to the current contract. Mr. Killebrew said (rough numbers) that a 15 year officer stands to receive about $75,000 annually as of Sept. 29, 2009 under the current contract...but under City Hall's new offer would receive roughly $87,000 a year by the Sept. 30, 2009.
A 15-year Sergeant stands to receive roughly $98,000 annually under the current contract...which would become roughly $111,000 a year under the new offer. Lieutenants would go from $113,000 to roughly $126,500 annually.
A beginning police officer's salary is $54,000 annually, not including overtime and various skill pay items (marksmanship, bachelor's degree, etc). Compensation includes automatic roughly 5% raises each year through their 5th year, plus the raises in the current (and possibly new) agreement.
No, the above figures don't include overtime, and yes, an officers' compensation would be even higher if he/she works significant overtime. [Comment: And yes, overtime is more likely the longer LBPD's staffing level remains thin.]