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Rocklin approves police pay raises

New labor contract amendment saves $1 million over four years
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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With an agreement in hand, the city called an impromptu meeting of the Rocklin City Council last week to approve raises and other changes to the labor contract with the Rocklin Police Officers Association.

“We’re done, good news,” Mayor Brett Storey announced after the Dec. 5 special meeting. The city and the RPOA were able to reach an agreement on concessions that would reduce expenditures and avoid the need to consider layoffs, according to city documents.
 
The council voted unanimously to approve the amendment to a labor contract that, city officials said would save the city $250,000 a year until the currently enforced contract is up in 2017.
 
For the first time since the recession began, sworn and non-sworn members get a raise. It will be for 3.5 percent of their current salary, effective next month. The increase is offset by the members contributing toward their retirement contributions to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System starting next month, instead of the city picking up the total amount of sworn and non-sworn officers’ annual pension contribution. 
 
For sworn officers, it’s 9 percent of their salary (about 7 percent for non-sworn), but the employees won’t pay the full amount just yet. According to the amendment, employees will contribute 1.75 percent a year until they reach the full amount by the end of the contract.
Sworn and non-sworn personnel will get a one-time payment of $300 and $150 respectively to assist with uniforms and tuition reimbursement for $826.50 a year, with annual increases of 3 percent per year for the duration of the contract.
 
The city wanted new hires to get reduced benefits. The union agreed to a second tier of the pension benefits formula for rookies that will now be 2 percent at age 60 for new hires rather than the old formula of 2 percent at 50.
 
Earlier this year, the state gave the city in-creased leverage for labor negotiations. For example, the pension will be based on the three highest years of service, not just the highest, as previously enacted by the Legislature.
 
Representatives from the RPOA did not attend the meeting, but RPOA President Adrian Passadore issued a brief statement.
“As we have always done, the RPOA has worked with the city of Rocklin to balance the needs of our members with the needs of the city,” Passadore said.
 
The mayor was equally pleased after the special meeting.
 
“We have a good agreement,” Storey said. “The police officers are happy. The city is happy.”
 
When asked if the city could have held out longer to secure more concessions, Storey said the contract was fair.
 
“I think it is a fair bargaining process,” he said. “We always strive to have all the (union) members relatively close, and I think we took steps to get there.”
 
The RPOA contract is different from recently approved contracts with the other city unions, including the public service AFSCME union and the Rocklin Fire union. Both will get similar raises, but will pay different rates of the PERS contribution. Both recently agreed to a second tier of pension benefits for new hires.
 
The RPOA measure was voted less than a week before the new City Council was seated, which would have included two new members – Greg Janda and Dave Butler. Both will preside over the consequences of the council members’ decision over their four-year terms. When asked to comment, both Janda and Butler indicated they believe the contract was for the previous council to decide.
 
According to Rocklin Public Affairs and Economic Growth Manager Karen Garner, the current council members wanted to finish the business they started in numerous closed sessions on the labor negotiations.
 
“Both of the items on the agenda are items that the current council is very familiar with and have been involved with,” Garner said. “Both items are also somewhat time-sensitive, so it was decided to call a special meeting prior to the regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 11.”
 
The city reportedly uses 61.97 percent of the fiscal year budget to compensate its employees. That number is down from 65 percent the previous fiscal year. All of the city’s union contracts and their amendments are available on the city’s website, www.rocklin.ca.us.