New Costa Mesa police contracts head to final adoption

New Costa Mesa police contracts head to final adoption
The Costa Mesa City Council moved a step closer Tuesday to adopting two new contracts covering local police personnel. (File Photo)

Two new employee contracts covering Costa Mesa police personnel moved a step closer to approval Tuesday night when the City Council reviewed the agreements and voted unanimously to schedule them for final adoption next week.

On the table are proposed memorandums of understanding with the Costa Mesa Police Assn. — which represents rank-and-file officers — and the Costa Mesa Police Management Assn., which consists of higher-ranking personnel.


The most substantive changes are in the agreement with the management association, which would run through June 30, 2022.

The pact covers eight employees and would provide them a series of four 3% salary increases between now and July 1, 2021.


Those employees — who last received a pay raise in 2008, according to city staff — would, in turn, steadily increase their retirement contributions until they are putting 14% of their pay into their pensions by July 1, 2020.

Additionally, the management association’s members would be entitled to flexible benefit contributions of $2,119 per month for health insurance, along with a $75 monthly technology allowance. Lieutenants could receive $1,000 per fiscal year for professional development.

The overall cost of the agreement is calculated at $1.7 million.

The pact with the rank-and-file association, on the other hand, is largely the same as the last one, which was approved in April 2016 and expired last June.

A significant change is that the 127 people covered by the agreement would be entitled to a flexible benefit contribution of $1,375 per month for health insurance, with that amount rising to $2,119 on July 1. Currently, the figure is $631 a month.

The cumulative cost to the city as a result of the increase would be about $4.5 million over the life of the contract.

Mayor Katrina Foley said the agreements will not increase the city’s unfunded pension liability.

“It’s what I call frugal but functional,” she said. “We have a need to be competitive … in order to maintain our Police Department, in order to recruit. We’re still understaffed in our Police Department.”

Tuesday’s hearing was the first of two required by the city’s Civic Openness in Negotiations, or COIN, ordinance before the council can officially sign off on the agreements. The second is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Under COIN, proposals and offers from the city and an employee union must be posted online during contract negotiations. The ordinance also requires that there be independent financial analysis of contract proposals and designation of an independent negotiator to bargain on the city’s behalf.

An independent economic analysis also must be done on the financial impact of each contract term and be made public 30 days before negotiations with an association begin.

Councilwoman Andrea Marr said she thinks the council should look at tweaking the COIN process “so we can make this move a little bit faster” and more efficiently.

“It’s great that we’re putting it on the website and being transparent, but there’s also 30 days where we sit around and stare at each other, and no one is clear on what that 30 days is supposed to accomplish,” she said after the meeting.

“I’m certainly not saying I don’t support transparency, but I think we can tighten it up,” she added.

Councilman Allan Mansoor, however, said there are benefits to a longer process.

“There’s transparency, there’s openness, there’s discussion — everyone can see what’s going on,” he said. “Does it take a lot of work? Yes, a lot of time and effort. But I think it’s worth it because everyone gets to see what’s going on and where your tax dollars are being spent.”