Council approves CPOA contracts despite police objection

Months after reaching an impasse in negotiations over salaries, the city council pushed forward employment terms with the Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA).

The city held six closed-door meetings with the CPOA to negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for almost a year, meeting from July 2018 to February 2019. The CPOA has been working without a contract since June 30, 2018.

Part of what the police officers wanted was a four percent salary increase in the 2018-2019 fiscal year and another four percent increase in 2019-2020. The city countered that would be “fiscally irresponsible” given the city’s structural deficits and desire for parity among all city employees.

City Manager Tara Schultz has not received an increase in pay since she was hired by the city in February 2018, according to city spokesperson Bevin Handel. She told the council Tuesday that contract agreements with all other employee groups did not include salary increases.

The CPOA contract approved Tuesday does include a one-time payment of $718 to each employee if revenues exceed expenditures in the next fiscal year, as well as an increase in bilingual pay from $75 to $100 a month and an increase in equipment reimbursement by $200—from $400 to $600.

An impasse was declared in February after the CPOA rejected the final offer, and a fact-finding report outlining each party’s positions was released earlier this June.

According to the report, the CPOA wants increases in compensation and benefits and believes that “they have fallen behind in total compensation when compared to cities and agencies that have historically been used to compare wages, hours and conditions of employment.”

The city contends that as a result of the salary survey range adjustment, “the association’s bargaining unit members’ pay is equal to or above the average” when compared to other cities and agencies.

A salary survey is a way to define a fair and competitive salary for employees based on what nearby cities pay.

While the final offer did not include actual base salary and benefit increases, last year’s contract implemented a salary survey range increase of 3.5 percent for police officers, 4.5 percent for police corporals, 5 percent for jailers and 5 percent for parking enforcement officers, which was effective on July 1, 2018, the city said.

The CPOA contends that without raises the department may lose officers to other agencies and will have trouble finding new recruits in the future.

Detective Matt Hamill, who is the president of the CPOA, told the COURIER the association didn’t know the council was considering the item until a day before the meeting.

“They gave us no notice at all,” he said.

Further, he said the police deserve a salary increase due to the dangers of the job.

“We provide essential services to the city to keep it safe so people want to work here, go to school here and do business here,” Det. Hamill said. “With how dangerous the profession is, we feel the men and women of the department deserve a raise.”

He said the CPOA also advocated for a two-year MOU term, and the city countered with a one-year term. “Come August 1, were going to be without a contract again,” he said.

Councilmember Ed Reece, who was chair of the police commission before being elected to the council, voted in favor of pushing through the final offer, but did so with reservations. He said while he hopes employees will become a priority in the future, he needed to be fiscally responsible.

“My vote tonight is not because I don’t care, because I do,” he said. “The employees of the city are the engine that makes this city great. And I want to thank all the employees, the officers, the rest of staff and all the departments. Hopefully in the coming years we will be able to turn the corner and find new ground together.”

Mayor Pro Tem Larry Schroeder said that in the end it came down to finances in his decision to pass the offer.

“I certainly hope we can find a way to come to the bargaining table and come to a better conclusion than this,” he said. “But certainly, it does come down to dollars and cents, and I wish there was a better way but right now I think I have to vote for this.”

The council unanimously passed the item.

Final tract map approved for Claremont Inn condo project

The council passed a final tract map that paves the way for building a 30-unit condo building and a 239-space parking garage on the site of the former Claremont Inn.

In addition to the condo development, the map includes building a private road running east to west, which would provide another connection from Colby Circle to Indian Hill Boulevard. Property line adjustments and easement clean-ups are also part of the final map.

Of particular concern to some Claremont residents was Lot 4 on the map, which includes the proposed 96-unit Colby Circle townhome development. The development has been met with resistance from surrounding neighbors, who have called it too dense and imposing on single-family homes in the area.

Marcia Law LaPierre and Marla Law Abrolat, whose family home on Oxford Avenue directly borders the proposed townhome location, wondered if the final tract map included finalizing the Colby area.

Community Development Director Brad Johnson responded that the owner of the property, Claremont Star LP, is still in negotiations with a buyer, Intracorp Homes, to purchase the property. Once that happens, a separate subdivision map of that area will be reviewed by the planning commission and the city council, which could happen within the next two to three months.

“It’s the 30 condos, not the townhomes, this is a different portion of the project,” City Manager Tara Schultz said. “The townhomes will be later and those actions still remain.”

The council passed the map, 4-0. Councilmember Ed Reece recused himself from the discussion and vote due to a “conflict of interest.”

More on Tuesday’s council meeting will be in next week’s issue of the COURIER.

—Matthew Bramlett


[Ed. note: This article was updated to correctly note that the CPOA’s equipment reimbursement rose from $400 to $600 under the terms of the new contract]


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