The extra $1.3 million is apparently contingent upon the settlement of a lawsuit that the police union filed against the city regarding the breaking of the 2008 contract.
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
The Albuquerque City Council is looking at putting in an additional $1.3 million toward raises for rank-and-file members of the Albuquerque Police Department, a move that would give officers a total of $3 million in raises this year.
The Council has already appropriated $1.7 million for police raises, but that wouldn’t be enough to get officers back to the pay rate they were promised in 2008 under a contract with the city that was eventually broken by Mayor Richard Berry’s administration, Councilor Ken Sanchez told ABQ Free Press.
The extra $1.3 million is apparently contingent upon the settlement of a lawsuit that the police union filed against the city regarding the breaking of the 2008 contract, Sanchez said.
The city is hoping to settle the suit for $5 million to $7 million, an amount that would give $5,000 to $7,000 in back pay to each officer, Sanchez added. The money to settle the suit would come from the city’s Risk Management fund.
Any additional money for police raises would have to be appropriated by the Council. Sanchez said he’s hoping the issue can be settled quickly. “We have to do this thing soon. They [police union] have been trying to work out an agreement with the administration [regarding the lawsuit],” Sanchez said. “The officers that are working the streets desperately need help.”
The additional $1.3 million for the raises would come from money that wasn’t spent from last fiscal year’s general fund budget and would bring officers up to the pay level they were promised in 2010, Sanchez said.
Albuquerque Police Officers Association Vice President Shaun Willoughby wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Earlier this summer, Sanchez had proposed throwing an additional $500,000 at the rank-and-file for raises. At the time, Willoughby said it wasn’t enough because it wouldn’t get officers back to the pay level they were promised in their 2008 contract.
That three-year contract called for rank-and-file officers to get a base pay of $28 an hour over three years in return for agreeing to eliminate step increases that paid them more the longer they had been on the police force.
The pay increases were provided during the contract’s first two years, but then the recession hit and Berry’s administration broke the contract and eliminated the raise for the third year. In addition, the administration imposed a 2.4 percent pay cut on all city employees in an effort to prevent layoffs.
Sanchez said when Berry imposed the pay cuts on city workers he vowed to make them whole in the future. “This isn’t a raise, but a restoration of the money they [police officers] lost,” Sanchez said.
— Dennis Domrzalski
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