Police Chief Rick Braziel (CPR file)
Sacramento has taken a step towards shrinking its budget gap. The city’s police union has tentatively agreed to delay its members’ cost-of-living increases to avoid massive layoffs and service cuts. But deals with other unions might not be as easy.
The two largest unions yet to reach a deal are those that represent fire fighters and the majority of non-public safety employees. In their public statements, neither has shown much desire to negotiate.
Fire union spokesman Chris Harvey says he recognizes the tough economic times, but thinks the city can look elsewhere.
Harvey: “There’s several millions of dollars of discretionary funding that’s out there that the city could use to keep our stations open and keep police officers and fire fighters on the job.”
Still, both unions are talking with City Hall. Sacramento officials say there will be no further police department reductions for the next year thanks to the union deal, and they’re making a similar offer to fire fighters. All told, the city says it can cut the $50 million budget deficit in half if it can reach agreements with all the unions.
The union that represents Sacramento police officers has agreed to delay its cost-of-living increase to save the city $6 million – and keep nearly 70 officers on the streets.
It’s a tentative agreement that still requires approval from the city council and union’s rank-and-file. If it passes, the city says the police department won’t have to take any further cuts in next year’s budget.
Union vice president Mark Tyndale says his members – and city residents – can’t afford to lose those patrol officers.
Tyndale: “It would have put us in a state where we would not even be close to providing the service that we want to be able to provide to the citizens of Sacramento regarding the police department.”
Tyndale says unlike previous negotiations when he feels the city mislead the union, it’s clear the current economy has Sacramento short on funds.