Council approves raises for police management association

The city council approved a contract for the Claremont Police Management Association (CPMA) Tuesday night, which features a raise and an opportunity for another in the future.

The council voted 4-1 to approve the contract. Councilmember Corey Calaycay was the lone dissenting vote.

The contract with the CPMA was months in the making. It will be a two-year contract retroactive from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021.

A notable part of the contract approved Tuesday was a salary adjustment based on a survey of eleven nearby cities that was conducted in November 2019.

Salary surveys are conducted to assess the average pay of a certain position in nearby cities. If the Claremont position pays less than the median of those cities, the employee’s pay is adjusted to remain competitive.

According to the contract, police lieutenants and police sergeants will get a four percent salary bump, while police captains will get a raise of half of a percent.

The city previously reached agreements with three other employee organizations in November, which included a one-time bonus of up to $1,000 when a small surplus was realized during the fiscal year. The CPMA rejected the bonus offer, the city said, opting instead for the salary survey.

No other employee group received a salary survey in 2019, in favor of the one-time bonus.

One employee group still without a contract for about a year and a half is the Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA), which represents police officers not in management positions. The CPOA reached an impasse with the city in February 2019, and a contract was imposed without their approval in June of that year.

The CPOA told the COURIER two weeks ago that the city was considering doing away with the salary survey, the same mechanism used to give the CPMA raises. The CPOA called the proposal a “poisoned pill.”

The CPOA has asked for a salary increase, which the city has denied, citing the ongoing budget deficit and a desire for equity among all employee groups.

Jeff Ting of the CPOA told the COURIER in a previous article that a salary survey for police officers and corporals found their salaries were five percent below the median of the eleven survey cities. 

City Manager Tara Schultz did not comment on the CPOA’s allegations last week, citing ongoing negotiations.

The CPMA also received an additional salary survey to be conducted in May 2020, with an implementation date of July 1, 2020, the city said.

While the 2019 salary survey will be paid for by the remainder of last year’s budget surplus, the funding source for the 2020 salary survey remains unidentified.

Mr. Calaycay objected to this part of the contract, citing the unknown potential cost of that upcoming salary survey in the midst of an ongoing budget deficit. He pulled the agenda item from the consent calendar for discussion by the council.

The consent calendar is part of the city council agenda where several items that are deemed “non-controversial” are approved together.

Mr. Calaycay prefaced his remarks by noting that he did not intend any disrespect to the police department, nor did he imply his colleagues on the dais who may disagree with him were in any way wrong.

He pointed to Ms. Schultz’s plan to cut $2 million from the budget this year, as a way to get ahead of the potential $2.8 million deficit in 2023.

“At this point, until we’ve worked through our budget and figure out where our cuts are going to be, I feel very uncomfortable moving forward with a contract that has an unknown factor in it,” Mr. Calaycay said.

During public comment, Al Villanueva implored the council to provide the department with a “standard of living where the police officers don’t leave the city of Claremont for another agency.”

While he recognized Mr. Calaycay’s point, he noted, “You can’t put a price tag on human life, on protecting human life.”

Barbara Musselman noted during her comment that she understood Mr. Calaycay’s position, and both sides needed to strike a “balance” in the negotiation process.

Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Stark noted that while the salary survey isn’t a perfect mechanism, “in lieu of not being able to give COLAs (cost of living adjustments), this is the best we could do.”

Councilmember Ed Reece said while there was a risk, it was calculated.

“It is tough to make decisions that affect our employees, affect the community’s dollars,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I believe that what is being brought forward is the closest to a balance that we can find.”

Mayor Larry Schroeder also expressed his utmost respect for the police department, and said it was a tough decision given the city’s current budget crunch.

“But I think through this negotiation process which has a tremendous amount of rules and regulations…I think what we ended up here with is a fair compromise and a fair conclusion with this,” Mr. Schroeder said.

Besides the CPOA, the other employee group without a current contract is the Claremont Management Association. Their contract expired on June 30, 2019.

The next city council meeting will take place on February 11.

—Matthew Bramlett



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