A ruling by city council, a lapse in a contract, and negotiations at a standstill when it comes to police pay; it's a confusing situation with answers about "what happens next" still being sought.
“They want to get back the 3 years worth of steps that they were frozen for in the last agreement, and they want another step for the coming year,” Lisa Marley said.
Lisa Marley with the city's human resources department says, the San Angelo Coalition of Police knew going in the steps would be frozen. But what exactly are "steps?” Basically, they are pay raises given to officers but the number of steps doesn't match the number of years on the job, she says that's a common misconception. Another is that more money wouldn't have to be added if more steps are added
"The cost to do that exceeded what the council had set for the police salary increases this year,” Marley said.
The city council voted to honor the one percent pay raise for police back in April but Lisa says there's a big difference in those numbers.
"They want 622 thousand plus, you only gave us 119,000 to do for salaries so we couldn't reach and agreement,” Marley said.
"You're kind of stuck in the middle as a city councilman. The good thing I see coming out of that is that meet and confer is still alive, the contract might have been expired but we still are a meet and confer city,” Lane Carter said.
Councilman lane carter thinks when the parties have meet and confer meetings could lead to a solution.
"Go through the negotiations earlier during the year, the fiscal year, before the budgetary time comes up. That way we can find the solution faster than see what money is left over at the end of the year,” Carter said.
Both Lisa and Lane don't think cuts to city services should be made, but the lapse in the contract does bring up a major concern.
"The lateral transfers. That saves our department thousands of dollars. To hire from the outside without having to do a training academy,” Carter said.
Competitive salaries and lateral transfers are just a few selling points when it comes to officer retention, something SAPD struggles with.
"We think that the salaries they're paid at this point in time are commensurate with what we're doing for the other positions in our city as well,” Marley said.
Along with the one percent raise approved by city council, an additional 5 positions were added to SAPD however with the lapse of the contract comes the loss of an assistant chief's position, all part time officer positions, sign on bonuses, and the lateral transfers. Those losses total 4 employees
As for what happens next, another meet and confer meeting will have to be scheduled.