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Long Beach PBA officers awarded raises

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue.

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue. The police station and fire department are attached to the building. (June 21, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

A state arbitrator has awarded Long Beach police a back-pay agreement that will give officers a 20.75 percent pay increase over seven years.

Long Beach police officers, who will make an average of $96,514.02 in fiscal 2013-14, according to the city's budget, have not received a raise since 2008. The 61-member Police Benevolent Association has been without a contract since that year.

The arbitrator's award, released May 29, gives police five years of retroactive raises and two years of raises in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Compounded, the total raise is 22.7 percent, city officials said.

Long Beach officials and police union leadership declined to speculate on the dollar amount of the back-pay award. John C. McLaughlin, the city council's lone Republican, speculated Friday that it would cost the city between $3 million and $4 million, which he said it likely would have to pay through borrowing.

The award is sobering news for a city that has been struggling to dig out of a fiscal crisis, McLaughlin said. "The city's going to be in big trouble here," he said. "The only way they could pay for it is to borrow it unless some magical money came from somewhere."

City council president Scott Mandel said in a statement that the award provides some savings but does not go far enough to protect taxpayers.

"While our cops on the street continue to do a great job, we are disappointed by the arbitrator's decision based on the fiscal challenges our City and residents are facing," he said in the statement.

The city's police union believes the award is "fair on both sides," said union president Kenny Apple. "Guys haven't had a raise in five years. People are extremely happy that it's finally over," Apple said.

Long Beach officials released a statement Friday that said the arbitration agreement reduces termination pay by 16.6 percent, which will save the city more than $850,000 on current employees and carry over to the future. Health care co-pay reimbursements have also been eliminated, the statement said.

The award also includes an "unprecedentedly low" 1 percent twice-a-year increase for the final three years, the statement said.

All told, the agreement includes cost savings of more than $2.8 million, Mandel said in his statement.

The award comes on the heels of the city's approval of its 2013-14 budget, an $83.4-million spending plan that is a 2 percent decrease from the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The budget carries a 1.5 percent tax increase.

Long Beach Republicans chided the city's Democratic leadership over the size of the award. "The city is taking a beating," city Republican spokesman Jim Hennessy said.

City manager Jack Schnirman did not return requests for comment.


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