Long Beach City Council to Have Final Decision on Contract Increasing Officer Salaries

The Long Beach City Council will have the final decision at next week’s council meeting over a tentative labor agreement between the city and the Long Beach Police Officers Association that includes a nine percent raise for officers.

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City officials announced Monday that union members overwhelmingly voted to ratify the agreement during the last two weeks of January. That agreement will now go before the city council for public discussion and final approval on February 7.

The three-year contract will bring pay in line with other agencies, set a new cap for overtime hours and reform health care costs that officials said will provide long-term savings to the city.

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A market analysis of the 10 comparable agencies found that Long Beach consistently ranked at the bottom and more than 10 percent behind today’s median pay for a police officer, according to the release.

“Public safety is the highest priority for the City of Long Beach, and in order to achieve our objectives we rely on a dedicated and well-trained police workforce,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “This tentative agreement provides our police officers with modest wage and skill pay increases that will allow us to retain quality officers and attract new recruits to our police department in a very competitive job market. I want to thank the POA leadership and the city negotiating team for their hard work to come to an agreement.”

Under the contract, which becomes effective September 1 if approved, officers will receive a general salary increase of three percent each year for an increase total of nine percent over three years.

Officers make between $5,905 and $7,284 monthly, according to Human Resources Director Alex Basquez, which translates roughly to about $70,000 to $87,000 annually.

The last increase in compensation for Long Beach Police Officers was one percent in 2014, the release stated. Prior to that, the POA had negotiated with the city to contribute nine percent of salary as part of pension reform negotiations.

The new agreement also includes an increase in skill pays to help the city recruit a qualified and diverse department and retain police officers, according to the release.

Basquez said that means that officers who further their education and training will be offered up to $346 a month on top of their base pay as oppose to the current offering of $200 a month. Officers will still need to meet the same requirements for the Advanced POST Certificate to receive the new pay. She said 61 officers are currently receiving skill pays but city officials believe about 275 officers will be eligible to apply and receive these skill pays. These certificates can be attained through bachelor’s degrees as well as training and law enforcement experience.

Other contract terms include a decrease in the maximum number of overtime hours police officers can bank, from 140 hours to 80 hours.

“When an officer works overtime they can bank the time which allows them to take time off in the future, or it allows them to be paid off for that time in the future,” Basquez said. “By reducing the amount that can be banked overall, it reduces our overtime liability because typically when you pay it off at a later point in time that might mean that it’s paid off at a higher rate.”

Lastly, the agreement will continue discussions regarding overtime assignments and modifying the police training program in order to increase the number of officers in patrol. It will also include health care reform provisions that help stabilize health benefit costs and provide long-term savings for the city, officials stated.

“I want to thank the Mayor, City Council, and City Management for demonstrating their commitment to public safety,” said Steve James, POA president, in a statement. “The agreement was reached through a collaborative process, with the intention of making sure we maintain the high quality Police Department the citizens of Long Beach expect and deserve.”

City officials said the agreement would have a total estimated annual net fiscal impact of $6.2 million in the general fund in fiscal year 2017 and $14.3 million in the general fund at the end of the three-year agreement (September 30, 2019). No Measure A funds will be used for the raises, according to Assistant Finance Director Lea Eriksen.

The POA represents about 800 Long Beach Police Officers.

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