City, police reach agreement

No plans for downtown police beat

Pending formal approval by the Gilroy City Council, the city has
reached a two-year agreement with police that will save the city
$800,000 annually and even more in the long run.
Pending formal approval by the Gilroy City Council, the city has reached a two-year agreement with police that will save the city $800,000 annually and even more in the long run.

At a special closed session meeting held Tuesday evening, four city councilmen reviewed the proposal approved several days earlier by the majority of the 58 members of the Gilroy Police Officers Association, and gave city staff the nod to move forward with scheduling a public vote. Council members Craig Gartman, Cat Tucker and Perry Woodward were not present. Council members will cast their official votes at an Aug. 26 meeting.

In a significant break from current practice, members of the police union have agreed to begin paying the 9 percent employee contribution to their retirement program out of their salaries, a sum the city currently contributes at a cost of about $800,000 annually. This agreement takes place on the heels of an identical concession made last month by the Gilroy firefighters. All other city employees have paid their employee contribution since 2002, according to city staff.

Another similarity between the police agreement and the firefighters’ contract is the introduction of a two-tier retirement system, in which new hires have cheaper retirement plans than current staff. Currently, Gilroy police officers receive a retirement benefit of 3 percent of their highest annual salary for every year of service, up to 90 percent. They can start collecting these benefits at age 50. For example, an officer who topped out at $100,000 a year and served 30 years on the force can begin collecting $90,000 upon retirement. Under the new agreement, new officers will receive a scaled back retirement benefit of 2 percent of their highest annual salary for every year of service. Instead of the $90,000 he would collect under the old plan, an incoming officer would collect $60,000 annually upon retirement instead.

The city expects this change to result in significant savings long term.

The new agreement also ends furloughs and hold salaries at July 1, 2008 levels. The agreement reduces costs associated with the K-9 and Mounted Unit programs, and stipulates that officers participating in the field training officer program will be paid for actual time worked instead of a 5 percent monthly stipend. In the new contract, the city agreed not to place a measure repealing binding arbitration on the ballot. Additionally, members of the police union will receive an additional 40 hours of personal leave in each of the next two fiscal years.

The labor agreement will take effect retroactively starting July 1, 2010, and will remain in place through June 30, 2012.

“This agreement will significantly reduce expenditures with the full implementation of the new agreement saving the city an estimated $800,000 annually,” City Administrator Tom Haglund said. “This took a lot of hard work on the part of the police union, management and the city council. We are pleased that an agreement was reached in the best interest of Gilroy citizens.”

Leave your comments