Per Charter, SB Ups Police Department Salaries

(December 3) SAN BERNARDINO—For the second time since the city of San Bernardino declared bankruptcy in August 2012, the city council has given its police officers raises.
The pay increases, which are scheduled to go into effect next August, like last year will entail an additional million dollar drain on the city’s already decimated budget compared to the previous year.
The automatic raises are a consequence of a provision in the city’s charter known as Section 186, which requires that the salaries of police and firefighters in San Bernardino be based upon the  average remuneration of their public safety counterparts in ten selected California cities with populations comparable to San Bernardino.
The city council is constrained under the terms of the city charter to provide the raises. The San Bernardino Municipal Charter, which can be altered only through a vote of the city’s residents, dictates, under its Section 186, that police and fire department pay is to be determined by averaging the pay provided to similar positions in ten California cities with  populations between 100,000 and 250,000. Those ten cities are selected by a process in which all California cities in that population range are considered and the union eliminates from the list the lowest paying municipalities and a city management representative eliminates the highest paying cities until the ten from which the average is taken are determined.
The council voted to comply with the Charter Section 186, nearly eight months before the raises are to go into effect, in part to provide the city’s finance department adequate time to work the numbers into the upcoming 2014-2015 budget.
Accordingly, 163 police officers will see a 2.91 percent or $210.69 per month increase and will now be paid between $5,235.98 per month and $7,463.19 per month, depending on seniority. Forty-four detectives and corporals will receive a 3.41 percent or $279.20 per month increase and will now be paid between $6,411.02 per month and $8,477.40 per month, depending on seniority. The department’s 39 sergeants will receive a 2.79 percent or $261.61 per month increase and will now be paid between $7,618.33 per month and $9,634.21 per month.  The pay increases for police officers, detectives, corporals and sergeants will cost the city $56,830.06 per month.
In the case of the police officers, corporals, detectives and sergeants, the salaries were based upon the average paid to comparable positions in the police departments in the cities of Fairfield, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Irvine, Lancaster, Norwalk, Oceanside, Palmdale, Pomona,  and Santa Clarita.
The salary paid to law enforcement trainees will be upped to $4,188.78 per month ($24.17 per hour), which is 80 percent of the lowest grade of pay for a police officer.
Adding annual fringe benefits and other salary-driven costs which rise with salary increases such as the state public employee retirement system contributions, unemployment and Medicare, the total increased general fund cost for salaries and benefits for the police officers, corporals, detectives and sergeants for fiscal year 2012/13 is $823,357.89; overtime costs are estimated to be $216,269, for a projected fiscal year 2013/14 increase of $1,039,626.69.
In making adjustments to the salaries of the department’s management personnel, the department’s nine lieutenants, assistant chief and chief will all see cuts in pay,. Only the department’s three captains will see raises. The lieutenants will take a .40 percent cut in pay or lose $48.12 per month. The captains will get a 1.85 percent increase, amounting to $250.54 per month. The assistant chief will sustain a 1.75 percent pay cut and lose $273.94 per month and the chief of police will be downscaled 2.94 percent or $519.80 per month. The comparable pay survey for the management team was made from the cities of Costa Mesa, Fairfield, Fullerton, Hayward, Huntington Beach, Murrietta, Pomona, Roseville, Ventura  and Santa Rosa.
The overall Charter 186 financial impact for the police management group will result in a decrease of $7511.61 to the general fund.
Mayor Patrick Morris, a former Superior Court judge who in his role on the council does not have the power to vote except to break a tie or to form a quorum, is the city’s most outspoken opponent of Charter Section 186.  Calling salaries for the city’s safety employees “our most expensive single item,” Morris said it is contrary to common sense to be increasing the pay of already well remunerated municipal employees, “particularly in times of bankruptcy and insolvency.”
Some citizens opposed to Charter Section 186 have remarked  that the cities chosen for the salary survey are better fixed financially than San Bernardino. Defenders of the charter section maintain that San Bernardino’s elevated level of crime entitles police officers who work there substantial remuneration.

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