In a move officials said could save $100,000, the City Council this week voted to outsource all 25 crossing-guard jobs currently being overseen by the Burbank Police Department.
Police Administrator Josephine Wilson assured the council that even though the guards would be overseen and paid via an outside firm, they would maintain their current wages and remain at their assigned crosswalks.
But they will likely lose the health and pension benefits they currently receive as being part of the Burbank City Employees Assn., and crossing guards on Tuesday bemoaned losing the authority of being associated with the Police Department, as well as their badges.
The move would transfer the employment contracts of the city crossing guards to All City Management Services, a firm that also goes by “the crossing guard company.”
The firm cited high liability insurance rates as the main deterrent to offering health care to its employees, prompting the City Council to ask for options on extending city health plans to the crossing guards for some transitional period.
But that did little to satisfy the guards, who pleaded with the City Council to maintain the status quo.
“I hope you deny the police department’s request to treat us like step children and keep us employees of a great police [department] and members of the same family,” said Harrie Niers, who recalled how students on his route decorated the sidewalk for his 66th birthday and a police patrol car arrived with a candle-topped cake.
Niers and his colleagues also argued that removing the crossing guards from Police Department oversight could make it harder to enforce traffic rules.
When Gina Bateman was hired 10 years ago, she described the uniforms as plain white with a vest and no badges.
“Since we have the uniforms, we get so much more respect, especially from the teenagers, and most drivers pay much more attention, now that they see the Burbank Police patch on there,” she said. “I’ll see them put down their cell phones, put on their seatbelts, slow down. It’s really impressive what difference a patch on the shoulder makes.”
But interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse said the proposal was a result of speaking with other police departments in the region, including Glendale and Pasadena, who also use All City Management Services.
Although council members expressed dismay at outsourcing what many referred to as a “homegrown service,” they said it was in the city’s best financial interest to move forward with negotiations.
The City Council also voted to fund only two out of the three School Resource Officers for Burbank schools, leaving the option of funding the third to the district.
The fate of the third school resource officer position partially lies in the hands of the state, said school board President Ted Bunch. And the state isn’t expected to release its final budget for months.
“We would like to have the third officer if we can get it, but it depends on where finances are,” he said.