Council pressures police assn. to skip raises

CITY HALL — The City Council, faced with plugging a $9.7-million budget gap for the next fiscal year, put pressure on the Glendale Police Officers Assn. on Wednesday to forgo cost-of-living increases for at least the upcoming year to help ease the impact to other departments.

Police officers are due a 6% pay increase July 1 as part of a four-year contract that was negotiated in 2007. With potential cuts of sworn officers looming as the council attempts to balance the fiscal year 2009-10 budget, the union agreed to again meet with the city next week, city official said.

“I’ve been very thankful to the association for even entertaining the idea of meeting on this,” Human Resources Director Matt Doyle said.

“They have negotiated a contract in good faith — albeit at a time where we had a different economic scenario — but nevertheless, they do have a contract, which in most circumstances we must honor.”

Union President Larry Ballesteros could not be reached for comment.

At Wednesday’s study budget session, council members were hesitant to discuss any cuts to the Police Department budget before knowing the outcome of the negotiations.

A full 5% cut would bring additional layoffs and the elimination of community-based services to a department already lean after last year’s unpopular cuts of sworn officer positions.

The council this week gave direction for cuts as high as 7.5% for the majority of the city’s departments. The council did not endorse a full cut to the Police Department, noting pay concessions could help alleviate budget issues.

“I don’t think we can talk about this because we don’t know what we are looking at,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman.

Several members urged the association to forgo any increases as the Glendale Firefighter Assn. agreed to in March.

Councilman Dave Weaver was especially harsh, noting that police “won’t have support from this councilman” if they do not agree to concessions.

“This councilman wants to see zeros,” he said of the pay increases.

Even as the council expressed reluctance to move forward, City Manager Jim Starbird emphasized a budget proposal should be created at Tuesday’s budget study session without waiting for any association concessions.

Despite the agreement to meet, Doyle said there was no guarantee any concessions would be reached, leaving the burden of how to make heavy cuts on the council.

“[The police union’s] willingness to meet with us is something for which we as staff are very grateful for,” Doyle said. “Whatever comes out of that, it’s really hard to say.”


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