City of San Angelo and SAPD Concede to Pay Increase Delay
SAN ANGELO, TX – This morning at City Hall, members from San Angelo Police SACOP and the City of San Angelo Meet & Confer Caucus met for another round of discussions about pay increases for police officers.
LIVE! previously reported how both sides ended the Sept. 15 meeting in a deadlock (see here) over pay raises. After SACOP members introduced a possible amendment to their contract to City team members Lisa Marley, director of Human Resources and Civil Services, Rick Weise, assistant city manager, and city lawyers Michael Dane and Theresa James, they learned their ideas were not feasible per City Council guidelines, and so both sides took their presentations to City Council this past Tuesday.
At the meeting, City Council members unanimously approved giving full authority to City Manager Daniel Valenzuela to “execute and negotiate the Meet & Confer contract” (more here).
At today’s meeting, both SACOP and the City conceded to a temporary resolution, which will help keep the Meet & Confer arrangement going.
Sgt. Rick Tinsley with SAPD said, "We're very committed to keeping Meet & Confer alive."
Marley, on behalf of the City, echoed the sentiment.
With many more members from SAPD and city leaders present, including Chief Frank Carter, City Councilman Harry Thomas, SMD 3, and City Manager Daniel Valenzuela, SACOP and the City caucus members got down to the business of finding a temporary resolution on officer pay raises that would help keep the Meet & Confer arrangement going, and satisfy the Sept. 30 deadline on the current agreement.
City members emphasized that their goal is to recommend to the City Council that the $322,000 in excess sales and property tax revenue go towards insurance premium increases. Marley said the City will officially know what that increase is by November or late October. Single employees will go from paying $16.50 to about $25, but employees covering families may see their rates go up by as much as seven percent.
To offset those increases, Marley said that would cost the city about $311,000 should the premiums stay in line with previous trends.
“This is something to help with increase costs across the board to help all employees,” Dane told SACOP members.
He added that if that isn’t done, all employees, including the 590 retirees who participate, will feel the brunt of that increase, including SAPD officers.
Thus, by SACOP agreeing to forego raises in October and wait to meet again and discuss them in April, that will give the City more time to hopefully come to a budget resolution.
However, Dane said there are no guarantees in either case. There is no guarantee that even with the $322,000 going to insurance premiums that employees won’t still face an increase should that increase be higher than anticipated; and there is no guarantee there will be funds to give officers a raise in April.
However, Dane and the other members said they would do what they had to in order to garner an agreement between the two groups to “get the vote on schedule.”
Despite this, one SACOP member said, “It’s going to be a hard sale, but it’s important to stay at the table. It’s in everyone’s best interest to do so.”
Dane told SACOP that the City understands the needs of SAPD. Staff has met with Chief Frank Carter to discuss the raises and the needs of the department, so getting something done is important.
Prior to Meet & Confer, there was a 60 percent attrition rate at SAPD because of the issue of competitive wages. Since Meet & Confer, SAPD is now in the 91 percentile of competitive wages compared to 13 comparable cities. The goal for the City is to get SAPD at 95 percent, and both sides agree that steps have been taken in the right direction, which is why both are willing to concede to keep things going.
“It’s easy to get caught up on this year’s raise, but we need to focus on how to maintain a competitive pay scale,” said Dane.
He added that this has to happen for future generations, not just today. There has to be something in place for City Council members to maintain continuously.
“We want to maintain a system that continually communicates,” said Dane.
The SACOP members said they agree, but one of the officers pointed out that because of past issues with the city, many officers may have issues trusting the City to follow through should they vote to hold off on raises.
“There’s a lot of mistrust; let’s be honest,” said the SACOP member. “If funds are earmarked, that will help with that trust.”
Dane noted that all the City caucus can do is to finalize an agreement, but in the end, it’s still up to the City Council on how things turn out
To ensure forward movement, and after a few breaks to discuss offers on both sides, the two groups agreed to concede.
The City offered a new agreement that would
- defer a decision on salary increases until April 2017;
- make the mandatory fitness program voluntary for officers;
- recommit to Council use of the $322,000 for offsetting insurance premium increases.
SACOP, in “the spirit of keeping dialogue alive,” agreed to the new agreement, but asked the City to put the new amended agreement in writing to take back to SAPD officers for final vote.
The vote, which City members have to be present for, will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 in the SAPD conference room.
After the vote takes place, Meet & Confer members will then hold another meeting on Sept. 29, which is one day before the Sept. 30 deadline for this year’s Meet & Confer contract agreement.
Concession Helps Keep Meet & Confer Going
Although officers still have to vote, and the agreement has to go before City Council at the next meeting for approval, both the City Caucus and SACOP felt today’s meeting brought about forward movement.
“We’re thrilled to be making steps to keep Meet & Confer alive,” said Marley. “The worst case is the agreement does not get ratified by members. That would be catastrophic because we’d have no Meet & Confer. Best Case, vote goes through and Council passes it.”
Marley added that it would also be good if the budget turns around and raises take place for all city employees.
Sgt. Rick Tinsley, on behalf of SACOP, said, “We’re also very committed to keeping Meet & Confer alive.”
He added that today’s meeting was a move in the right direction. Many officers do not care for the mandatory fitness program because many of them workout daily, and many do not like the added burden of doing something they don’t feel benefits them. By making this program voluntary, SACOP has an incentive to work with when talking to their members.
Tinsley said he also realizes that the City is not being malicious in any way.
“We have to make sure our members understand that,” said Sgt. Tinsley.
He said SAPD is experiencing a lot of changes right now, and the pay raise issue is another morale aspect officers are dealing with. Tinsley said, however, officers are “in the business of serving people,” so if waiting for a raise will benefit all employees, that’s worthwhile.
“We hope [the $322,000] will offset all increases for all city employees,” Tinsley said, referring to the insurance premiums.
Going forward, and if all works out with the vote and City Council approval, the Meet & Confer members are committed to meet in March and April. There will also be monthly updates, but not necessarily through formal meetings, Marley said.
Sgt. Tinsley thanked City Staff for working hard to come to a resolution, especially after not conceding previously to SACOP’s recommendations, which caused SACOP members some frustration.
“There was a bit of a trust issue,” said Tinsley. “Now, we have gotten something, and we’re glad we’re moving forward.”