No cost of living allowances or wage increases.
That’s the proposal offered by the town to the newly formed Longboat Key Police Department Union.
Just like the town’s fire department negotiations, the town is offering a new three-year contract — from Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 31, 2012 — that denies the police officers cost-of-living and step increases for at least the first year of the contract, citing difficult budget years for its reasoning.
The new police union, meanwhile, already proposed its members be paid 50% of their medical leave upon retirement, which will not go toward final pensionable costs.
The town agreed with that request after deciding to eliminate a plan to pay out all employees 50% of their unused medical leave, because the move proved too costly for the town.
The town also included an addendum to its proposal called “the economic reopener,” which states that wages and other economic benefits provided in the agreement are based on the anticipated revenues and the budget of the town.
“In the event there is a budget shortfall or an unanticipated extraordinary expense, the town shall have the option but not the obligation to reopen all or any of the economic sections or subsections of this agreement,” the town’s proposal states.
And, just like the town’s firefighter contract proposal, the town added a section to its contract that only agrees the police pension plan would continue through Sept. 30, 2010. The town proposes the plan will be monitored after that date, while retaining the right to change the amount it puts into the plans.
States the proposal: “The town is considering proposing a change in the way compensation to which the retirement multiplier applies, but is having that researched at the present time.”
The town’s proposal also states that the maximum amount of time a police officer can retire and be rehired by the department through the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) is two years (the police union proposes staying in the DROP for five years).
Southwest Florida Police Benevolent Association President Mick McCale, who is also a police sergeant with the Sarasota Police Department, said he is not allowed to comment while the union is in the middle of negotiations.
In the town’s current contract, a Longboat Key police officer’s top salary is $62,441, while the entry-level salary is $51,309.
In January, Town Manager Bruce St. Denis alerted the Town Commission that the town received official notification from the state that the town’s police department had formed a union.
Mick McCale, president/spokesperson of the Sarasota-based Southwest Florida Police Benevolent Association Inc., said his association was elected by the town’s police department to represent it for purposes of negotiating the terms and conditions of its members’ employment as police officers.
Public employees in the state of Florida have the constitutional right to collectively bargain. There are approximately 400,000 public-employee bargaining units throughout the state, including the Key’s Fire Rescue bargaining unit.