Columnist Glad Antioch Police Tax Not on Ballot

The Antioch City Council made the right decision when it decided against a proposal by Councilman Gary Agopian, on behalf of the Citizens for a Safe Antioch, not to place a parcel tax for additional Police Department funding on the November ballot One wonders, however, if Council would have made the same decision if there weren’t three open seats for City Council, including the mayor’s seat or if they’re just holding out hope for the Legislature to lower the threshold for public safety taxes from a two thirds approval to 55% approval.

The Police Department is currently operating with 34 less sworn officers than authorized. However, the city is planning to hire back 5 officers to fill positions lost through attrition and 5 more with $1.5 million dollars in federal grant money. ( This month the chief informed council he’s currently in the process of adding two additional cops, expanding the reserve officer program, replacing 2 recently retired K-9s and adding one additional K-9.)

Regrettably, the city laid off all it’s non-sworn community service officers (CSOs) in 2009. Hiring back a number of CSOs, who make considerably less than sworn police officers, would free up more officers to get back on the street. (The cost of funding the base salary and benefits of a Police Officer at Step C is approximately $132,000 a year, the cost of a CSO at Step 3 is approximately $84,000 a year. (The City recently tried to hire 3 people, but each one declined.)

In recent contract negotiations APOA agreed to give up raises that had been deferred since 2009, received a 6% raise, agreed to contribute 9% instead of the previous 3% to their PERS retirement and accepted an agreement giving them a 3% salary increase in 2013 and a 4% hike in September 2013. (I fail to comprehend, however, why Council gifted them with two additional annual holidays! )

Interesting to note, a recent staff report to Council from Human Resources stated that, as per the city’s recently approved Memorandum of Understanding with APOA, effective September 1, 2012, the City will report the employee paid member contribution to PERS as special compensation to the employee’s salary. Could it be that the intent to treat the contribution as a salary addition is to jack up their pensions when they retire

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