Police Defer Pay Raises, Six Officer Positions Saved

The city's public works employees ask for equal treatment with the police.

By Dave Roberts

The City Council approved an agreement Tuesday night with the police union that saves the city budget $967,000 and avoids the layoff of six police officers that had been announced in December.

“The residents of Antioch can feel confident in knowing that the number of officers patrolling our neighborhoods will not decline in 2011 due to layoff,” said Sgt. Tom Fuhrmann, president of the Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA), before the council took the vote. “This is a major step forward in our battle to keep crime at bay in Antioch.”

The agreement, known as a memorandum of understanding (MOU), saves the cash-strapped city budget nearly $650,000 by deferring the 8.6 percent cost-of-living pay raises that had been scheduled to take effect this year. It also saves nearly $318,000 by having the officers contribute 3 percent to their retirement pensions – previously the entire amount was paid by the city.

The deferral of the pay raise is in addition to deferrals in 2009 and 2010. At some point all of those deferred raises will come due, but that is not specified in the agreement.

To offset the sacrifices, the city’s 100 police officers and 12 dispatchers will receive two additional paid holidays, one on the day after Thanksgiving and the other on New Year’s Eve. The agreement, which remains in effect through this year, specifies that no officers will be laid off in 2011.

Fuhrmann, who has taken a combative, even mocking, attitude with the council in previous appearances, was conciliatory Tuesday night.

“It is with much work that we have forged this agreement, meeting regularly with both Mayor Davis and City Manager Jim Jakel to search out ways our police officers can give back to help the city in this time of financial challenge,” Fuhrmann told the council. “Thank you for your willingness to sit down with us to discuss the issues frankly and earnestly and for your willingness to listen to the views of Antioch police officers.

“It is no shock to know that at the same time Antioch is experiencing a spike in violent crime, there’s been a 21 percent decline in the number of police officers available to patrol Antioch neighborhoods. Yet our officers remain committed to doing their job to ensure the safety of all Antioch residents. I stand before you proud of representing the police officers and dispatchers who work hard for Antioch and who love the Antioch community. We have a history of giving back and have been making concessions by taking home less and contributing more since 2007 when this economic crisis first began.

“We humbly ask you to support this amendment to our MOU so that the city can save nearly $1 million and so our residents can feel safe in knowing there will not be a reduction in police officers on the streets due to layoffs. We remain committed to continuing to work with the city to identify ways we can lower costs and help bring the city of Antioch back to full economic vitality.”

The one note of discord came from Rollie Katz, representing the city’s public works employees, who have made larger compensation concessions than the police.

“For two years we have been making changes to our agreement to help the city out,” Katz told the council. “We have taken a 10 percent pay cut for two years. Not simply deferred pay raises, but taking home 10 percent less. You are now asking us not just to pay 3 percent for six months but to pay more for PERS this year, an additional amount next year and not have a pay raise until sometime in 2013.

“The agreement you’re entering into today with the POA, unless you make further changes in the summer, is not going to solve your budget problems as your people have described them to us. You may get some short-term savings. But if you do not address the other underlying issues, you’re not going to be in any different position six months from now.

“We have had informal discussions with you where we have said we are willing to do things along the parameters you have talked to us, with a little work along the edges, if and only if we get the assurances you will obtain the same thing from all of the groups, and that means the police. It is not fair to say that one group gets treated differently and is special. We have made sacrifices and we think it’s time for you to assure us those sacrifices are not in vain.”

None of the council members addressed Katz’s plea to treat equally those who repair potholes as those who catch criminals.

But Councilman Gary Agopian thanked all of the city employees for “the work you do, past work, current work and future work. It’s going to be very important for our city that we pull together and that we are able to overcome the obstacles, the financial ones primarily. But we have more than financial obstacles that we have to overcome. We all want this city to be a safe, growing, vibrant, caring city. I want to thank them (police) for their courage and their honesty and for their dedication to making this agreement here tonight.”

Members of Local 1, City of Antioch Pipefitters Jamie Olson holds a protest sign while Paulo DeOliveira observes the council proceedings.

A statement on the APOA website concerning the agreement reads:

Antioch Police Officers’ Proposal to Save the City $966,699 this Year in Salary & Retirement Benefits on Tuesday’s City Council Agenda

A proposal by the Antioch Police Officers’ Association to save the city $966,699 in salary and retirement benefits will be up for a final vote of the Antioch City Council at its next meeting on Tuesday, March 8th.

“Our police officers care about Antioch and have a strong desire to contribute back to helping solve the City’s financial problems,” said Sgt. Tom Fuhrmann, President of the Antioch Police Officers’ Association, which represents 100 police officers and 12 dispatchers who serve the Antioch community.

One of the major tenets of the tentative agreement is a no lay-off clause, stating that no police officers will be laid-off, at least through the end of the year. The lay-off notices for the six police officers previously noticed would also be rescinded.

“If the Council approves this agreement, its’ members will be saving the City nearly one-million dollars, as well protecting the public safety of all our residents by agreeing to keep as many officers as possible protecting our neighborhoods,” Fuhrmann added.

Fuhrmann said that he and his police board members approached the City last year about making concessions to address the City’s budget deficit. When the City announced the layoff of six police officers, Fuhrmann said he and his representatives began meeting regularly with Mayor Jim Davis and City Manager Jim Jakel to discuss options to save the city money and to reinstate the six officer positions.

“Mayor Davis was open to meeting with us and was instrumental in negotiating an agreement that would save the City money and keep our police officers on the streets,” said Fuhrmann.

The agreement specifically defers salary increases for Antioch police officers that were scheduled to have been received this year from 2009, 2010 and it defers all increases scheduled in 2011. It defers a deferred compensation contribution scheduled to be made by the City. Police officers will begin paying 3% of the employer’s portion of PERS until January 2012.

“Our police officers work hard, everyday, fighting violent crime in Antioch,” Fuhrmann added. “It is a testament to our officers’ commitment to the Antioch community that they would agree to take a cut in take-home pay to be part of the solution.”

An earlier APOA statement, reflecting the more aggressive tone, reads:

On 12/15,10, the City announced the layoffs of at least 6 police officers in the first phase to begin on January 1st, 2011. This is a surprising decision to the Antioch POA due to the current staffing levels within the department and the pending retirements which are occurring at the first of the year. The police department was once authorized 126 sworn officers and will be now at 95 sworn by January 2011. The departments staffing levels are expected to dip into the 80’s in 2011.

The POA has continued to work with the city in an attempt to save jobs and money for the city. The POA has continued to work with the city and the POA members have given up close to 20% in raises and been on a hiring freeze for the past 3 years. This past year the city went forward and cut funding for all 22 CSO positions within the police department. The police department has lost several clerical positions, and had to take officers off the street to man positions within the department. This has added a significant impact onto the patrol officers staffing and the calls for service the police department now responds to. In the coming months there are additional layoffs which are expected to occur. These numbers are not know as of today, but could be as high as 6-10 additional officers.

The staffing levels for the police department are at an unacceptable level for the size of the city we are in. Crime has been on a rise in Antioch and can be seen by the now 10 homicides compared to last year when the city only had 5. The serious felony assaults have been on a rise as well with several high profile shootings in the past month. Officer’s response times are being effective by the lack of officers on the street and will continue to decline even worse as the city continues to put the citizens of this community at risk. The city wants to open the community center, but the city doesn’t want to tell you the cost in running the facility or there will not be any police department members able to staff the new sub station. The city continues to spend money on luxury items within the city.

The police department has already displaced traffic officers, school resource officers, and other proactive police efforts. The investigations unit has also been cut in staffing and the recent decisions will force the already few investigators even smaller meaning the crimes which need to be investigated will not. Property crimes and other less violent crimes will not be given priority. Property crimes are at an all time high in the city with Violent crimes still on the rise. The budget for spending has also been cut every year making it tougher to purchase new equipment to update old equipment or training. The path this city is on is the path for disaster for a crime ruled city with no city services to support the citizens.

The POA is asking for the communities support to express your concerns to all the members of the City Council who won their election based on public safety being number 1 and wanting safe streets. The POA wants these council members to be accountable for their slogans and their promises to the community. It does not appear the council members are doing enough to make the correct decisions in cuts. If you wish to voice your concern to the City Council members the email addresses are below.

Make your voice heard because these are elected positions within the community and the council members need to know the community elected them into that position.

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