Uploaded: Tue, May 26, 2009, 10:23 pm
Palo Alto police officers defer $800,000 in raises
Union votes to delay 6 percent raise until 2011, extend contract with city by a year
In a move that will save Palo Alto about $800,000 during bleak financial times, the city's police union has voted to defer the 6 percent pay raise it was slated to receive in 2010.
The Palo Alto Police Officers Association, which represents about 80 officers, voted by a 75 percent majority to defer the raises, a component in the union's 2007 contract with the city, Agent Wayne Benitez, police union president, announced at the outset of a City Council Finance Committee meeting Tuesday night.
The union also agreed to extend its three-year contract, which was due to expire in 2010, until 2011.
Benitez said the deferral will cost each officer about $10,000 in lost wages. The vote was tallied Saturday morning, he said.
The union's announcement came about two weeks after the city's fire union agreed to defer raises a year, which will save the city about $700,000.
It also came at the beginning of a meeting where the committee was scheduled to consider cutting $500,000 from the Police Department's budget.
"It is our hope that the money we saved through our voluntary salary reductions will not only assist the city to close its deficit but prevent cuts in vital city services," Benitez told the committee.
"As Palo Alto employees, we are not immune to, nor unaware of, the hardships felt by the many during these economic times, yet we will continue to assist the members of this community to the best of our abilities," he said.
The decision was lauded by the committee, which was completing its series of meetings on the 2010 budget Tuesday night.
Vice Mayor Jack Morton, who had previously criticized both unions for excessive overtime spending, thanked the city's rank-and-file officers for doing their part to help the city get out of a $10 million financial hole, which could grow to $12.5 million if the state holds back sales tax and other revenues.
"I never had a doubt, not for a moment, that you'll all step up to the plate and help our city solve this," Morton said.
Councilman Larry Klein also thanked the officers, calling them "great citizens in our community."
Chair Pat Burt called the union's decision "an outstanding comment on the commitment of our Police Department, and prospectively of other employee groups."
But even with both fire and police unions agreeing to defer raises, the city is still banking on concessions from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521, which represents about 600 city workers.
City Manager James Keene said city officials are currently in negotiations with the union.
The projected $10 million budget gap assumes that neither the employees represented by the union nor city management will receive pay increases in fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1. Otherwise, the deficit would balloon to $12 million, even without the threatened additional state withholding of revenues from cities, counties and districts
"We've built into the budget assumptions that we'd be able to avoid or defer pay increases for the management/professional class," Keene said. "And, as we go to negotiate with SEIU this year, that we'd have no pay increases for FY 2010.
"That is subject to change."
Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on May 28, 2009 at 5:31 am
I came on here only to commend the vote of the PAPD. I think it was a wise and mature action, ..I wonder if any other unions across this state..heck nation..will notice that, in fact, we are hurtin' and everyone on the tax dollar is going to have to give up raises..even probably give up some pay, before this is done.
Too many of us taxpayers are dropping down, or completely off, the taxpaying scale ( this is what happens every time our nation demonizes the "rich" and believes that a government can "redistribute the wealth"..the wealth goes bye-bye, the coffers dry up, the poorer people get hit the hardest)
Our Fed coffers are down 34% over a year ago, I noted in yesterday's news. Our California coffers are down at least that much. This was an absolute given, given the geopolitical winds of "change" that were blowing across our land.
Of course, excuse me for stating the obvious, but our coffers both at the State and the Fed level brought in more than in our entire history back in 2005, 2006, 2007. WE had more money at all levels than we knew what to do with, but as usual we voted for ever more spending here in California ( remember the election a couple years ago when we could have actually chosen to save our "excesses" for a rainy day, but voted to go ahead and spend it then rather than have our "schools, prisons, social services, lose money", ie, not get more?) Our Fed govt Congress never met an increase in expenditure they didn't like either, so the more that came in, the more programs they created to spend it on, rather than saving the "extra" for a rainly day..or even giving it back to the taxpayers!
Vote buying eventually gets it so that we run out of OPM, and that is what we are doing.
Live and learn. Not the first time we have to learn this in our nation.
I have been reading economic history books. Amazing. We did this every 20 years or so back in the 1800s re: railroads and the like, where we believed that government could do better than private, and bankrupted the coffers of the "govt" railways while the private ones did just fine. And the taxpayers said "no bail outs" of the public trains, while the private trains ran a profit. Then we started trying this "anti-capitalist" "Anti-business" "unfair that there are richer people" rhetoric, and put into place fed taxes ..almost exactly 100 years ago. Since then we have cycled through more taxes ( and less coffers, less economic growth, higher unemployment) and fewer taxes ( with more money in the coffers, less unemployment in the private sector). And, conincidetally, every single time the tax cuts on "the rich" happen, the share that the "rich" pay into the coffers doubles, and share that everyone else pays goes down by roughly 30%.
Until this year, the top 10% paid well over 60% of all the Fed taxes. The top 25% paid over 85% of the budget. Hmmm.. Not going to happen now. Govt intervention lit the Community Reinvestment match, which lit the mortgage meltdown, fanned by election year rhetoric and hype, fanned by knee-jerk "save them" with taxpayer dollars and more govt control reactions, which scared the producers, the businesses, the wealth makers, into scurrying away, not wanting to risk any more of their money and energy on a nation which was on a witch hunt.
We seem to have to learn this basic lesson by paying a strong price and destroying millions of hard working lives about every 30 years, don't we? When will our history books teach the real lessons of our history so that our students will grow up and vote smarter? Instead, I see that historians blithely ignore the real economic lessons of our history, and insist on drawing completely false conclusions for unsuspecting minds about causes and cures for the stock market crash which led to a recession which led to a depression..all preventable. Or the recession and subsequent malaise of the 70s, and what fixed it.
I am sure the history books will be written in a way that continues to promote the myth that a "lack of govt regulation" caused this recent meltdown, and "more govt control" saved the people. I now understand how sickened my cousins' great grandfather was and refused to speak of Hoover or FDR. He always said that the wrong problem was adddressed, with the wrong solutions, all politically motivated. He spoke of Smoot-Hawkley being tthe "match" then, like our CRA was the match then.
Well, rambling thoughts early in the morning.
Accepting gradually that our human nature seems to not be as intelligent as I had always thought. We are easily led by the nose to false conclusions by clever wording, twisting facts, to even, sometimes, wholesale lies. They make us feel self-rightous and good, and we simply can't believe the truth staring us in the eye, because our heros aren't the ones telling it to us.
Ahh...early morning reflections.