Police union may seek pay raises

HARLINGEN — The local police union might seek pay raises as it enters into contract negotiations with the city.

This week, the Harlingen Police Officers and Law Enforcement Association and the city entered into collective bargaining talks.

In a meeting Wednesday, city commissioners met in closed session to discuss the union’s request to enter into talks.

After the meeting, city-contracted attorney Ric Navarro said the police union and the city were entering into talks to negotiate a contract extension.

Attorney John Sierega, representing the union, said the current two-year contract expires Sept. 30.

Union President Sal Carmona said he might seek pay raises.

“If that is what’s presented at the table, that will be discussed,” said Carmona, who represents 126 police officers. “In general, (collective bargaining) is a process that we do for the benefit of the city, the citizens and the officers.”

Sierega, an attorney with the Texas Municipal Police Association, said a request for raises could depend on other cities’ police salaries and cost-of-living increases.

“We’re going to be looking at the market, we’re going to be looking at the cost of living,” Sierega said.

Two years ago, collective bargaining talks led to a two-year contract that came with 2.5 percent raises in 2014-2015 and 3.5 percent raises in 2015-2016.

Police officers’ full-time salary package climbed about $700,000 from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016.

In 2015-2016, the full-time salary package stood at $6.5 million, up from $5.8 million in 2013-2014.