San Marcos City Hall.
By ANDY SEVILLA
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.Email | Print