HARLINGEN — The local police and fire unions are mulling proposed three-year contracts offering pay packages totaling about $835,000.
Earlier this week, the city presented the police officers’ and firefighters’ unions with offers to meet requests for pay increases.
So far, the city has included about $230,000, enough to fund next year’s pay increases, into its proposed $43.2 million general fund budget, City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.
“We’re going to have to figure out a way to work that into our budget in the coming (three) years,” Serna said.
After about three months of collective bargaining talks, the city has offered the unions three-year contracts.
The city has offered the police officers’ union a $450,000 package while presenting the firefighters’ union with a proposal for $385,500 in salary increases.
Next week, union representatives are expected to request their members vote on whether to accept the city’s offers.
This year, the city’s firefighters and police officers have worked under their contracts’ so-called evergreen clause, which expires Sept. 30, after the unions and city failed to reach agreements last year.
During tense negotiations, the police officers’ union requested pay increases for police officers with five or more years of experience, arguing the department was losing those officers to higher-paying state and federal agencies.
In the past two years, more than 30 officers have left the department for higher-paying jobs, Police Sgt. Tanya Sandoval, the union’s president, told Serna during negotiations Tuesday.
“We can’t compete with the (state and federal) agencies,” City Attorney Alan Ozuna said. “We can compete with the municipal agencies.”
Yesterday, Sandoval said she had “mixed feelings” about the city’s offer.
“I still haven’t made my decision,” Sandoval said. “It’s definitely a better proposal than last year’s. I’m still not extremely happy with it, either.”
Meanwhile, Julio Zetina, president of the firefighters’ union, believes negotiations are “moving in the right direction.”
“Obviously, it’s not where we’d like to be but we’re trying to work with the city,” Zetina said. “The cost of living is going up and we just want to keep up with it but we understand the city also has to take care of its other parts.”
The city’s proposed budget calls for 2 percent raises for employees other than police officers and firefighters.
Serna said he believes the city can reach agreements with each union before the fiscal year closes Sept. 30.
But if the parties fail to enter into contracts, the city would approve a resolution to preserve police officers’ and firefighters’ salaries and benefits while entering into mediation, City Attorney Ricardo Navarro has said.
Harlingen EMS transfer a woman from her car to an awaiting ambulance.
* Probationary officer — 0 percent in 2017-2018, 0 percent in 2018-2019, 2.5 percent in 2019-2020
* Police officers with one to four years experience — 0 percent 2017-2018, 2 percent in 2018-2019, 2.5 percent in 2019-2020
* Police officers with five to 10 years experience — 3 percent in 2017-2018, 3 percent in 2018-2019, 2.5 percent in 2019-2020
* Police officers with 10 or more years experience — 3 percent in 2017-2018, 3 percent in 2018-2019, 2.5 percent in 2019-2020
* Sergeants — 2 percent in 2017-2018, 2 percent in 2018-2019, 3 percent in 2019-2020
* Commanders — 0 percent in 2017-2018, 0 percent in 2018-2019, 2.5 percent in 2019-2020
* Deputy chiefs — $4,800 in 2017-2018, 2 percent in 2018-2019, 2.5 percent in 2019-2020
* Total $450,000
Proposed firefighters’ union offer
* 2-percent increase in 2017-2018, 2-percent increase in 2018-2019 and a 2.5 percent increase in 2019-2020
* Total $385,000