Still No Pay Raise In Sight For Those Who Protect And Serve
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS -- Early this morning, the City of San Angelo met with members of the San Angelo Coalition of Police (SACOP) to discuss the results from a two-day election period regarding salary increases for San Angelo police officers.
LIVE! previously reported on the March 6 Meet and Confer meeting, in which Lisa Marley, Director of Human Resources and Director of Civil Servants for the City, told the attending SACOP members that there is no money in the budget for pay raises in connection to salaries. Furthermore, the city council members did not want future city council members to begin the next fiscal year in debt; therefore, Marley proposed an alternative resolution equivalent to half of the pay increases as of April 2017 to be be paid in a lump-sum as follows: police officers, 7.31%, sergeants, 9.65%, and lieutenants, 9.68%.
Marley and Michael Dane, Assistant City Manager, both added that the estimated increases would total about $857,000.
After an hour and a half of debating, the city drafted a tentative agreement, in which the lump sums reflected half-a-years pay of the current police salaries. Attending members of the SACOP then took the agreement to their fellow men and women in blue and opened the ballots for a vote.
Today, the results were presented before Lisa Marley and members of the City and SACOP. During the two-day voting period, members of the local police force voted against the City's proposition in an 85 - 52 vote.
Upon hearing the outcome, Marley asked Doug Thomas, President of the SACOP, "you understand [the contract] will be null and void now?"
To which Thomas replied, "yes."
Thereafter, the meeting adjourned.
In regards to the rejection of the City's proposed salary increase, Doug Thomas commented, "the City [was] contractually obligated to give us a pay raise in October of 2016, [the City] did not, and the officers feel like if you're contractually obligated, you should meet your obligations," Thomas added, "we did agree to a deferment until October 2016 … [however, at the time] the City had about 220,000 dollars [with which] they could've met half the pay raises at the time, but they really wanted to put it toward the insurance premiums to help out other city employees. Understanding the situation … we decided that we should help them out [and] agreed to a deferent to April 2017."
Now that the police department has declined the City's offer, the City must make a decision on what they will do next. Thomas remains positive stating that, "we believe in the process, we want to save the process, and I believe the city council does, too."
However, he also points out that the SAPD has lost millions of dollars to officer retention issues over the past years. Once police officers have finished their costly training, and are not seeing any pay raises for the work they are doing, they will leave to better paying cities in Texas. Thomas believes that SACOP's initiative and fight for a pay raise, will aid in the long run to "defeat the problem" of losing money.
City council will be discussing today's results at its next meeting on March 21, at the McNease Convention Center. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. and is free and open to the public. For LIVE's previous meet and confer meeting coverage, please click here.
The City declined to comment, stating that a press release will be issued soon. Live will update this story as more information becomes available.
UPDATE: 11:00 p.m. on March 16, 2017
The City of San Angelo has released their response to this morning's meet and confer meeting.
In a press release, the City reiterated that the SACOP's decision to refuse the City's lump sum offer "will terminate the Meet & Confer process through which [police officers'] pay is negotiated"
The City of San Angelo also expressed their disappointed in San Angelo police officers, claiming "that the payment would have met the obligations of the Meet & Confer contract for the remainder of the current fiscal year." Furthermore, the City adds, "it would have bridged a gap to allow City management, the San Angelo Coalition of Police and the City Council to work together to increase officers’ pay moving forward."
The city representative underscored that the "The leadership of the City of San Angelo values all of its employees, including its first-responders," but noted that a pay raise in "the current economic climate" would mean "slashing service levels or further taxing the pocketbooks of [San Anagelo] citizens."
The city concluded that it is committed towards ensuring all "City employees earn a livable and competitive wage for the first-rate services they provide."