Kyle City Manager Tom Mattis, left, and Mayor Mike Gonzalez, right, discuss contract negotiations with city police at last week’s city council meeting. Photo by Lance Duncan.
By LANCE DUNCAN
KYLE — Tense negotiations between Kyle’s city staff and the city’s police officers for a meet and confer agreement spilled into the city council chamber last week. Kyle city councilmembers wound up approving a two-percent raise for police outside of the meet and confer process, though with reservations.
Councilmembers were unsure how to react to the agenda item put forward by City Manager Tom Mattis, who wanted to give police the two-percent salary increase and other amenities outside the framework of a meet and confer agreement.
Earlier this month, Kyle Police Association (KPA) President Jesse Espinoza asked during the citizen’s comments period at a council meeting why Kyle police didn’t receive the two-percent cost of living salary increase that went to other city employees as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 budget.
Mattis said last week that meet and confer negotiations were stalled, and that personal (verbal) attacks against city staff recently occurred. Mattis said the two percent pay adjustment had become a “road block” to successful negotiations. KPA declined the last offer put forward by staff on Nov. 15, and there is no current agreement between the police and the city, as the interim agreement was declined.
Mattis said he and city staff were unsure as to why the KPA didn’t accept the terms put forward by city staff, and complained that KPA had gone outside of meet and confer by talking directly to city council members.
The resolution Mattis put before the council included an immediate two percent raise for all sworn officers in Kyle, retroactively effective from October. It also included a clothing allowance, combined vacation leave, and a two-hour minimum for overtime pay out.
Councilmember Lucy Johnson asked if the resolution was an alternative to an interim agreement. Mattis said it was not.
“We’re allowing the council an opportunity to address issues,” he said.
Councilmember Ray Bryant indicated that he didn’t understand why the two percent raise for police wasn’t included in the FY 2010 budget. Mattis told Bryant that approving the resolution put before council would get police the raise, or at least begin the process, since it would be a direction to staff to do the necessary financial calculations.
Both Johnson and Councilmember Becky Selbera wanted the KPA representatives, who were in attendance, to come before the council and voice their concerns, but Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez said the representatives could not and should not talk during the council meeting because of the meet and confer process.
“It’s not appropriate for police to negotiate with council,” Gonzalez said.
Johnson said the council was already stepping out of the bounds of meet and confer by considering the resolution, which seemed to her to be a replacement for an interim agreement.
“This is not an agreement,” Gonzales said. “This is us as a body representing our citizens.”
Gonzales said the raise was being given to the police so the city could stay competitive with police salaries in comparable cities. Councilmember David Wilson said the resolution was in good faith and was designed to help the process move forward. He suggested passing the resolution, but amended to only include the two percent raise.
“We get that two percent off the table and we move on,” Wilson said.
Mattis responded that he would by “mystified” if council did not pass the resolution.
Selbera said the entire resolution should be tabled, adding that council would be approving items previously up for negotiation that the KPA had rejected. She said she still wanted to hear input from the KPA representatives in the audience. Again, Gonzales questioned whether it was appropriate for the council to engage the police.
Johnson said she still wasn’t satisfied, saying the resolution was a poor replacement for an interim agreement. Councilmember David Salazar said he wanted to make sure the resolution was only a direction for city staff to come back with a plan at the next meeting.
That confirmed, Wilson re-amended his motion to include all of the original content, and it passed unanimously with Johnson very reluctantly agreeing.Email | Print