Gilroy police, city agree on 4% raise

Annual increases for four years before council on Aug. 6.

After five months of negotiations, the City of Gilroy and the Gilroy Police Officers Association have reached a tentative four-year labor agreement that gives officers an annual 4 percent raise.

“Our members are pleased with the successful outcome, and we appreciate the mayor and city council’s continued support to our officers,” Gilroy POA President Brian Dutton said in a statement.

The agreement, if approved, will cover about 60 unionized Gilroy police officers’ employment conditions retroactively from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2022.

The four-year length of the contract is one aspect of the agreement that makes it different recent previous POA contracts, which have only covered two-year periods, according to Gilroy Human Resources Director LeeAnn McPhillips. This and other aspects of the contract are intended to make the Gilroy Police Department more competitive among the region’s law enforcement agencies in attracting “top-quality people” who want to spend their careers with the department.

The tentative agreement is posted on the city’s website, at cityofgilroy.org. The Gilroy City Council is scheduled to be considered for approval at the Aug. 6 meeting.

The tentative contract provides officers with an annual 3 percent salary raise for the life of the agreement. It also adds an annual 1 percent “equity adjustment” to the officers’ salaries, bringing their total annual raise to 4 percent.

A salary schedule included in the contract lists a starting Gilroy police officer’s base salary at $90,001 annually, as of July 1, 2018. A police corporal’s first-year salary at Gilroy PD would be $96,338 if the council approves the new contract, and a starting police sergeant will be paid a $106,803 annual salary. This schedule reflects the proposed 4 percent raise from 2017 salaries.

Bilingual officers receive a 5 percent addition to their base pay, and canine and mounted unit officers receive an additional $421.38 per month, according to the proposed new salary schedule.

The purpose of the 1 percent equity adjustment in the new contract is an acknowledgment on the city’s behalf that compensation at Gilroy PD is “behind market, compared to our region’s agencies,” McPhillips said.

“The 1 percent (equity adjustment) is to bring us up to market, so we can be effective in recruiting and retaining officers,” McPhillips added.

The city—represented in the negotiation process by McPhillips, Police Capt. Kurt Svardal and the city’s labor attorney—agreed to a four-year contract (as opposed to the string of recent two-year contracts) as a response to the stabilized economy. In the years following the 2009 recession, city employees were subjected to pay cuts, furloughs and other compensation reductions, McPhillips explained. Shorter, two-year agreements between the city and POA have been commonplace due to the uncertainty of the economy.

Hiring qualified officers to Gilroy PD has been a challenge in the years since the recession, due to the lag in compensation and economic instability, McPhillips added. The city hopes that with the updated compensation package in the tentative agreement, the Gilroy Police Department will be able to recruit experienced “lateral” officers from other agencies who can handle the growing workload of public safety calls within the city limits.

“We’re hoping with this longer-term agreement and stability, it will look attractive for some officers who might want to move over here and bring their experience, and be deployable as soon as they (arrive),” McPhillips said.

The four-year agreement also updates the city’s and individual officer’s contributions to CALPERS retirement, long-term disability coverage and uniform allowances. The contract also offers a new tuition reimbursement program for eligible officers who undertake higher education opportunities while employed by Gilroy Police Department.

“The City Council and I are pleased that the city was able to reach an agreement which will keep us as a competitive employer in the region,” Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco said. “Public safety is one of the City Council’s top priorities, and this new agreement should help with our recruitment and retention efforts. The City Council recognizes that our officers work hard to keep the community safe.”

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