Modesto poised to raise police pay

Modesto police investigate on Emerald Avenue after two groups of young men exchanged gunfire in on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.
Modesto police investigate on Emerald Avenue after two groups of young men exchanged gunfire in on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

Modesto’s police officers and detectives are poised to receive pay raises of as much as 11.5 percent over 2 1/2 years as well as other increases that eventually will cost the city’s general fund as much as $2.44 million annually.

The raises and increases are part of a proposed three-year labor agreement between the city and Modesto Police Officers Association, which represents the Police Department’s roughly 180 officers and detectives. The City Council — which has met in closed session several times with labor negotiators regarding the proposed agreement — is expected to approve it Wednesday.

Deputy City Manager Joe Lopez said Modesto continues to face challenges in hiring and keeping officers. He said the department is losing them to retirement and better-paying law enforcement agencies. He added that Modesto is becoming a younger department and it’s critical to attract and keep veteran officers.

He said once all of the raises and increases take effect, the city’s pay and benefits (not including pensions) for its officers will be around the median of pay and benefits for similar law enforcement agencies. He said those agencies include the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the police departments in Stockton, Manteca, Livermore, Elk Grove, Fresno and Bakersfield.

But the proposed agreement comes as Modesto faces challenges with its general fund, which makes up about a third of the city’s $361 million operating budget and primarily pays for public safety. Lopez said Modesto can meet its financial challenges while maintaining a level of police services the community expects.

“We know we have our work cut out for us,” he said.

The proposed MPOA contract would be effective from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2019. MPOA President Tony Arguelles said his membership has ratified the contract. He declined to say more before council members voted. The contract’s provisions include:

▪  MPOA members will receive a 2 percent salary increase in January 2017, then 2.5 percent in June 2017 and then 3 percent in June 2018. They also will receive a 2 to 4 percent increase in June 2019, with the amount to be determined by the level of inflation. Officers now make $65,496 to $79,620 annually, while detectives make $72,300 to $87,876. These figures do not include other types of compensation, such as longevity pay. MPOA members also will receive a one-time $1,000 retention bonus in November.

▪  MPOA members also will receive a 2.5 percent salary increase in June 2017, but at the same time those officers contributing 9 percent of their pay toward their pensions will begin paying 3 percent more, for a total contribution of 12 percent. Lopez said veteran officers will be paying the additional 3 percent. He said officers who are new to government and hired in January 2013 or later already are paying 12 percent.

▪  MPOA members also will receive increases in other types of compensation, such as special compensation for having intermediate and advanced certificates from California’s Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, which sets the standards for selection and training of law enforcement in the state. For instance, those with advanced certificates will see their special compensation rise from 5.7 percent to 8 percent in August and then to 10 percent in June 2017. Officers also can see increases in longevity pay and for collateral assignments, such as working on the SWAT team.

▪  Changing the work week, from four 11 hour days followed by four days off to three 12 1/2 hour days with four days off. A city report says this will let the Police Department better schedule officers when they are most needed. The report also says the change will save the city $250,000 annually in overtime.

Lopez said at full implementation, the labor agreement will cost the general fund $1.87 million to $2.44 million annually. He said the variance is because the last pay raise is tied to inflation. While the agreement will cost the city as much as $2.44 million annually, Lopez said it includes roughly $1.5 million in annual savings, such as eliminating the permanent detective position.

The council is not meeting Tuesday, its normal meeting day, because of National Night Out, the annual police-community event. The council meets Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316