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November 13th, 2009
Council to consider police contract

San Marcos City Hall.

Associate Editor

Years in the making, an agreement between the City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Police Officers’ Association (SMPOA) appears to be at hand. The city would guarantee raises of more than $1.25 million over three years for the current 95 San Marcos police officers.

The San Marcos City Council will consider the latest version of a meet and confer agreement with SMPOA at Monday night’s 5 p.m. city council meeting.

Voters approved civil service rules for police in November 2005. On Feb. 7, 2006, the San Marcos City Council accepted a petition from SMPOA to become the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for city police officers. Negotiations began in February 2007 with former City Manager Dan O’Leary, who met with SMPOA several times before leaving in December 2007 to become city manager in Keller.

City Manager Rick Menchaca joined the city in May 2008, and city staff resumed formal negotiations with SMPOA in November 2008.

After both the city and SMPOA attended an Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) training class, the two sides began negotiations leading to a proposal that was to go before the city council on Nov. 2, before SMPOA decided it wanted to reconsider some of the legal language.

“Since there was a question about legal language, we had to stop the vote in order to maintain the integrity of the process, and now we’re going to wait in a few days,” SMPOA President Danny Arrendondo said on Nov. 2. “We’ll have another meeting and we’ll determine — we should get a copy (of the proposed agreement) back (from the city) with any language corrected and we’ll move forward from there.”

The version of the agreement that would have gone before the city council on Nov. 2 proposed that the city would increase base wages, longevity increases, soft pay and related overtime by $208,576 for Fiscal Year 2010. For Fiscal Year 2011, the increase would double to $414,469, and triple to $633,094 for the 2012 Fiscal Year.

As it stands, San Marcos police officers earn an entry-level salary of $44,011, which is increased during the three years of the deal to a maximum of $58,980. Kyle police officers receive between $39,815 and $52,470, while New Braunfels pays officers between $45,080 and pays up to $47,363. Austin surpasses San Marcos’ figures, paying an entry-level officer at $50,848 and capping that compensation at $82,553.

The contract outlines hiring terms, wages and compensation, which include a 20-year career ladder with increased longevity pay, and other “soft pay,” such as additional monthly earnings for bilingual competence, educational attainment, shift differential.

During the length of the contract, law enforcement officers would receive salary increases, with police officers taking the higher jumps. Police officers would receive a 4.5 percent raise in FY 2010 and FY 2011, then top out with a 4.7 percent increase for the FY 2012. Corporals would receive an increase of 3.1 percent for the first year, 2.8 percent for the second, and 2.6 in year three.

Sergeants would take on a 2.7 percent increase in year one, a 2.6 percent in year two and year three of the contract. Commanders’ salaries would be increased by 3.4 percent in year one, 2.8 percent in year two, and 2.6 percent in year three. The assistant chiefs take the smallest pay hikes, with only a 2.2 percent increase in year one, 2.9 percent in year two, and 2.2 percent in year three.

All San Marcos law enforcement officers would receive across the board wage increases, as well, beginning in year two of the contract with a 1.75 percent increase and a 2.25 percent increase in year three.

Other pay hikes officers can expect include shift differential totaling $100 per month for each officer whose shift begins between 4 p.m. and midnight. Longevity pay is determined by a 20-year career ladder using a sliding scale that increases during the three years of the contract to a maximum of $4,080 per year, up from the current statutory $4 per month per year figure that is currently capped at $1,200 in year 25 of a career with the San Marcos Police Department (SMPD).

Bilingual pay would amount to $40 per month for officers fluent in Spanish or sign language, and a detective or narcotics officer would also receive $40 per month for being on call, having 12 officers rotate. Overtime provisions also have been made to allow 12-hour shifts. If an officer has a bachelor’s or master’s degree, she would receive $50 per month during year one of the contract, and, in years two and three, those with associates degrees would obtain an extra $25 per month, a bachelor’s degree would take $50 per month, and a master’s degree tops at $75 per month.

All officers could also take part in a residency incentive, mirrored after the one currently in place for Texas State University faculty and Kyle Seton Hospital employees. Those provisions provide $5,000 for purchasers of homes in the San Marcos city limits.

All police personnel hired after Jan. 1, 2010, however, would be required to reside within 40 minutes of the San Marcos corporate city limits, in efforts to assist with emergency call levels and response to disasters.

Officers would also be afforded association business leave, where an association business time pool would be created to conduct SMPOA business. Each officer would contribute five hours of vacation each calendar year to the pool.

A wage of $30 per hour would be provided to officers who provide off-duty security for the San Marcos Activity Center.

The contract also allows for officers who have been suspended without pay for up to five days to forfeit vacation or holiday time in lieu of the suspension, depending on permission from the police chief. Any appeals of suspension without pay for less than three days may only come before the Civil Service Commission, and not before a hearing examiner.

Dispute resolution would first come to mediation after both parties acknowledge the grievance. If the matter remains unresolved, both parties would consider arbitration and only partake in normal court proceeding if parties don’t agree to arbitration.

While the contract is in effect, parties would not be allowed to support or seek city charter amendments or initiate elections to increase wages, salaries, or pay.

Prerequisites for promotions also are outlined. A promotion to corporal would require four years of experience as an officer, while a promotion to sergeant would  require supervisory training and a minimum of 60 hours of college. The commander position requires a bachelor’s degree, in addition to passage of a written test.

In the event that the city can’t meet its funding obligations, the agreement terminates.

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0 thoughts on “Council to consider police contract

  1. I like the idea of SMPD having more residents who own homes in San Marcos. The benefit there is clearer than with Seton Hospital. I am curious to hear if anyone is taking the city up on these incentives. As far as I can recall, I have only heard of one or two cases.

  2. I actually like this residency incentive compared to the others that have been adopted. For neighborhoods, having police officers (and their police cruisers) in neighborhoods creates a passive law enforcement presence that discourages crime. Providing residency incentives is a somewhat common practice in other cities, though not always tied to homeownership. From what I’ve heard, several officers have expressed interest and are pursuing the incentive, with three having actually closed on homes using it.

  3. Nice to see that SMPD rewards themselves with our tax dollars while the majority of us slave away at minimum wage jobs.

  4. wp, well, you could get off your couch, get in shape and be an SMPD officer too if you wanted—and get that pay. Of course, you’d have to be available 24/7 on shifts, work holidays, put your life on the line daily, be out in the weather no matter how bad it gets sometimes (heat, cold, rain), be willing to risk your life to save someone else, and deal with the true scum of life many times. THAT’S why they get paid “more than minimum wage”, duh! Oh yea, and eat too many donuts (sorry cops, but might as well mention the jokes too!). And no, wp, I’m not a cop nor related to any of them, just trying to help enlighten your knowledge and outlook. Want that money? GO for it, no one is stopping you–except yourself.

  5. wp, well, you could get off your couch, get in shape and be an SMPD officer too if you wanted—and get that pay. Of course, you’d have to be available 24/7 on shifts, work holidays, put your life on the line daily, be out in the weather no matter how bad it gets sometimes (heat, cold, rain), be willing to risk your life to save someone else, and deal with the true scum of life many times. THAT’S why they get paid “more than minimum wage”, duh! Oh yea, and eat too many donuts (sorry cops, but might as well mention the jokes too!). And no, wp, I’m not a cop nor related to any of them, just trying to help enlighten your knowledge and outlook. Want that money? GO for it, no one is stopping you–except yourself.

  6. I think this contract is ridiculous! It reads like a bad “let’s just hit ’em high and see where they come back” offer, but I doubt if the city would counter with something that makes more sense. If we need anything, it’s more officers on the streets (homicides, home & vehicle burglaries, 2 AM Bar Hours, 30K plus students, booming Economic development, etc…); let’s spend the money on adding more officers at the current pay scale (which is already one of the highest in the State). I hope the City staff AND each individual council member can step back and make a well-informed, non biased, decision and voting this down. Before we make a long-term salary commitment, think about how much it’s really costing us in the short/long-term when we’re in need of more officers, equipment and patrol units. Let’s keep track of the “Ayes” and “No(s)” on this vote, then let’s compare it to SMPOA’s history of endorsements. It’ll be interesting to see who their “cheerleaders” are on Council. After this, and other more recent actions, SMPOA faces losing all credibility with future endorsements.

  7. A basic fact in government and “bidness” in general is that an expense tied to personnel becomes both permanent and cumulative–the folks who ride the benefits curve, whatever it be, remain as permanent expenditures. The expenses can only go up in future (a rule of nature?), never back down to the starting point. As General Motors and not a few other organizations have found, once the benefit or pension begins to compound on itself, it can outrun, and perhaps overtake, the available budget.

    Long observation and a little formal “learning” leads me to believe that personnel expense is almost universally the largest item in a budget. So far as I can make out,
    many if not most organizations average in the high 60th percentage of fixed costs, or Maintenance and Operations, which should rise only proportionally as income does.

    At the rate San Marcos is extending its hospitality, I should be very surprised if we don’t discover, in the not-too-distant future, what I call the “California phe-
    nomenon,” which is spending commitments outrunning new income. This leads in business to insolvency and in government a choice between drastic program cuts, new taxes and fees, or bankruptcy. I do hate to seem to harp on the theme, but I have been a tax spender and a tax payer, and I believe both should be done with great caution.

    The afore-described contract terms seem to me to be a bit rich for our town, or any town our size without a large industrial base to offset low wages and dependency on residential taxation. I have deep respect for our public safety and public service personnel, but they are far from the only game in town, or the City’s ONLY citizen responsibility. This is particularly true in a setting where the more one makes, the more one is entitled.

    Charles Sims may not be the very brightest bulb on the string (sorry, Charlie–joke!), but he’s truly credible on this issue. One system or the other, but not both. It’s either relative security and gradual advancement under Civil Service, or more exposure to risk and more direct compensation sooner for SOME incentive terms. We cannot afford both.

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  9. This is ridiculous. I guess just about everyone and every entity is spending more and more during this economic trash chute. We have absolutely no idea how to save money anymore, NONE. And to think we’re going to give this increase in money to the SMPD, the same people who are constantly complained about by citizens, who have officers constantly investigated and who on a consistent basis are seen out of uniform smoking pot and drinking and driving. They’ll sure throw you in jail for it though. With all due respect, SMPD doesn’t deserve the comparatively high pay they receive now.

  10. Police make too much money as it is. College students average $30,000 in an entry level position for god’s sake. People live paycheck to paycheck trying to make ends meat while these “people” jump in the game at $45,000 and make up to $80,000. Not only that but they don’t deserve it and they damn sure don’t deserve more as a reward. And to the asshole Adam above… get the hell off your high horse before someone pulls your elitist ass off. Most people won’t become cops, not because they’re lazy (Christ look at the fitness and education of our PD), its because they see the PD as a negative entity in the community. Their sole job is to harass the population, to keep a close eye on what we are all doing and to take advantage of their positions of authority when they deem fit. The polce are seen as targets not as teammates. Until this perception is fixed, only resentment will follow.

  11. SMPOA/SMPFFA = Susan supporters = political power base.

    Follow the money.

    It’s spent from YOUR taxes.

    It’s enabled with your vote last, and next November.

    Wake up!

    (Is there a trend here?)

  12. Pay for it now or pay for it later. No one had been adding new officers or firefighters. When someone breaks into your home or assaults your how much are you willing to pay to have it investigated. Right now the numbers don’t match up for 50,000 people and 30,000 students. At 80,000 people you would need about or 125 officers not just 95. Then you break that 95 down further into people actually watching your house and I bet there is only about say 10 to 15 officers watching your town on any given day. Last week when my car got broken into that case number they gave me was in the 88,000 range. That is alot of calls for 10 to 15 people to handle. RICK YOU NEED TO HIRE SOME MORE COPS.

  13. I don’t think we should be giving incentives to home buyers in any specific industry. I have no interest in seeing my tax dollars go toward housing rebates for other people.

    If we want professors and police officers to buy towns in San Marcos, then let’s make San Marcos a place where these people would want to live…not bribe them with other people’s money.

  14. I hope each of you will call your council members before the meeting. Aside from reading this, that’s the only way they’ll understand your concerns.

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